FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 board of directors learned Tuesday an audit of the district’s financial records for 2017-18 revealed no substantial issues or concerns.

A letter from the auditor, Runyon Kersteen Ouellette of Portland, said there was “no knowledge of fraud or suspected fraud, instances of noncompliance or suspected noncompliance or violations of budget ordinances.”

Accountant Timothy Gill made several recommendations to directors to address issues coming out of the latest audit.

“The business office has a small staff and that is not ideal,” he said. “Corrections have been made since 2017-18, with a new position added to the office. This is a comment I give to 98% of the districts I go to.”

Gill also said the same person should not be responsible for collecting and depositing cash from the school lunch program,

“These tasks should be segregated,” he said.

He also recommended an accounting process for online payments made to the food service program. Even though parents can make payments online, funds could fail to transfer or be deposited into the wrong account.

In a related matter, the district is looking at how it records $1.5 million in wages that are earned during the school year but paid over the summer.

“On June 30, those wages technically become a liability because they have already been earned,” Gill said.

Superintendent Tina Meserve said she has been in contact with the Maine Department of Education to discuss how to account for summer salaries without affecting the budget.

“They are willing to work with us over time,” she said. “We need to build our way to pay the salaries in the year they are earned.”

Gill also recommended instituting a “mini audit” of student activity accounts.

“Again, 98% of districts receive this recommendation,” he said. “I recommend looking at those throughout the year to keep receipts organized.”

Overall, expenditures were under budget by $826,000. This was attributable to decreased health insurance costs, personnel changes and education technician positions not being filled, according to district officials. Decreased fuel and heating costs also contributed to the savings.

Those unexpended funds, Meserve later said, were rolled over and used to reduce the budget the following year. “This is like a savings account,” she said. “It has to go back through the budget process before being spent.”

In other matters, Laura Columbia, the district’s curriculum coordinator, applauded administrators, staff and bus drivers who assisted residents of Edgewood Rehabilitation & Living Center, who were displaced by a fire Sunday.

More than 40 people were evacuated from the building at 228 Fairbanks Road and taken to Mt. Blue High School.

“They pulled off an amazing feat,” Columbia said. “What a great example of community involvement. We get feedback about having big, new buildings, but they really do benefit the community.”


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