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Small schools no longer required to have internal audit, saving districts thousands of dollars

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School districts with student body populations under 1,500 no longer have to complete yearly internal audits thanks to mandate relief embedded in this year’s state budget.

The decision by the state to drop the mandate could save small districts thousands of dollars.

“It’s going to save a couple thousand dollars,” Morristown Central School Superintendent David J. Glover said, estimating the savings to clock in between $5,000 and $10,000 this year alone.

At Lisbon Central School Business Manager Wendy S. White said she expects to see savings of $5,400 this year thanks to the state’s decision. Mrs. White said the district won’t miss the internal audits.

Michael Robinson, assistant school business manager at Heuvelton Central School, said he expects the district to save $9,500 this year by not having to carry out the internal audit.

But this won’t mean small schools won’t have their books checked.

Thomas R. Burns, superintendent and executive officer at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, said schools will still have to carry out annual external audits as well as an audit from the state Comptroller’s office every three five years.

“Internal audits were started approximately ten years ago,” Mr. Burns said, as a response to several allegations of fraud at small schools downstate.

“The internal audit was supposed to be, not so much an audit of the books… more geared towards risk assessment and fraud,” he added.

Mr. Burns said that, for the most part, the internal audit and the external audit covered the same ground.

Heuvelton Central School Superintendent Susan E. Todd said, “I think that we’ve proven over the years that the vast majority of schools are responsible with their funds. Another [audit] is just not going to help us.”

Mr. Glover said the internal audit is “redundant. A lot of times there’s overlap. It’s a welcome relief [to have it removed].”

“Every thousand [dollars in savings] counts,” Mr. Glover added. “But it’s not the level of relief that I’d like to see.”

Mr. Burns also noted that the removal of the internal audit requirement will also free up employees to work on other projects.

“You have to make your books available; you have to pull quite a number of documents,” he said. “It will definitely help significantly in terms of staff time.”

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