Firms Conduct School District Management, Accounting & Audits

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Accounting firms are in the business of providing services to firms and organizations, even school districts, apparently. The Flint [Michigan] Journal reports that the firm Plante & Moran has signed a contract to perform the functions of their departed chief financial officer (CFO) until June 30, 2007, or until a new CFO is selected by the district. By the terms of the contract, Plante & Moran receive $14,000 a month, the salary and benefits for its former CFO, according to district officials.

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New York state registered public accounting firms also produce an annual document, the Reference Manual, For Audits of Financial Statements of New York State School Districts (8 or more teachers)the New York State Education Department's Educational Management Services. School district audits must follow specific guidance of the State Education Department and the federal General Accountability Office (GAO). New York State Public Accountancy reports that school district auditors must be independent of their audit clients.

Each Board of Education must secure an annual audit by an independent auditor if $500,000 or more in federal aid is expended, according to the Reference Manual. In accordance with the Single Audit Act of 1984, independent auditors must perform their audits following generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS), according to New York State Public Accountancy. These standards were first published in 1972 by the GAO in a document called the Yellow Book that covers federal entities and other organizations that receive federal funds.

Some firms specialize in providing auditing and accounting services to governments. One of these firms is Allen, Green & Robinette (AGR), located in Monroe, La., with a 12-person staff. Their clients are mainly school districts and public housing authorities, according to the Journal of Accountancy.

In 1990, the Louisiana state auditor discontinued the auditing of school districts themselves and legislated that CPA firms would perform the work instead, “Because we had someone on staff with school district experience, we decided to pursue these audits for additional revenues,” according to AGR partner Tim Green.

Green continued in the Journal of Accountancy, “Public housing authorities have unique accounting procedures, so they're not really the norm. Performing school district audits brought us more into the mainstream of governmental accounting.” Green is chairman of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPAs) government accounting and auditing committee.

Other states may have multiple districts per county to better distribute the management of districts, but Louisiana has only 13 school districts–one per parish or county. The Journal of Accountancy reports that the sizes of the school districts help make them the largest component of their practice. Five professional staff and two partners spend about 75 percent of their time servicing the school districts, while two paraprofessionals spend 50 percent of their time on these clients.


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