School division receives clean audit

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Suffolk Public Schools received a clean bill of financial health from its auditor during a meeting Tuesday of the School Board’s Finance Committee.

The audit, conducted by Cherry Bekaert, covers the fiscal year 2018-2019. Senior Manager Tracy Bedgood and Rob Churchman, a partner with the firm, presented the results to the committee.

“It’s always interesting when you’re looking at the different levels of expenditures, revenue, things that we have coming in and out,” said Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III. “I was just really happy to see that our bookkeepers are doing a good job.”

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Executive Director of Finance Wendy Forsman explained to the committee the information, which included a summary of the different statements as a whole, and then broken down by individual schools.

“You can see our schools, what money they had at June 30 (2019),” Forsman said. “This money includes clubs, athletics, any kind of activities that the school has done, for instance, picture money, fundraising money, if they’ve earned grants. … We had accounts for each of those things, so they’re managed separately and the schools can keep up with their money separately.

Forsman’s office serves as a reference for the schools, and it does training with the bookkeepers at each one.

The auditors said that has helped with Suffolk Public Schools’ clean audit.

“It doesn’t happen by accident, because bookkeepers can change every year,” Churchman said, “and you can have principals change in. You can have other parts of the process change in and out for whatever reason, retirements or relocations, especially down here. So it’s a matter of having that infrastructure in place so that when a new part gets put in, it’s just basically plugged in and it’s following what the procedures are that are already in place.”

The audit the committee received will be presented to the full board at its Thursday meeting.

Gordon also thanked Forsman and her staff for the job they did in itemizing information.

“This is always interesting for us, because (with) those VRS (Virginia Retirement System) rates continuing to change, a lot of times … it becomes an issue for our staff,” Gordon said. “In some cases, they may be taking home less money than what they did years ago because VRS rates have gone up. And when you mix that with the insurance rates, it really creates a need for us to really improve teachers’ salaries and compensation for our employees.”