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School news — Superintendent lauds interim finance director for her work following budget error

Despite the upheaval caused by the budgeting error that lead to the resignation of former Newberg School District finance director Nathan Roedel in August, an audit conducted by Pauly Rogers and Co. showed the 2012-2013 budget to be clean and accurate.

The board voted 7-0 to accept the audit, which contained no exceptions, issues, comments and no separate management letter or weaknesses, at its Jan. 25 board meeting. The official determination of the audit was “no modified opinion,” which simply reflects a change in accounting terminology.

Superintendent Kym LeBlanc-Esparza praised interim finance director Gwen Gardner for working with the district budget office to create an accurate budget, beginning with the diagnosis and correction of a nearly $1 million shortfall that was discovered in August.

That shortfall was found to be the product of two major projection errors — one an under-projection of $1.1 million in payroll expenditures and a $1.5 million over-projection of revenue.

To solve the problem, Gardner transferred $597,429 in prior year tax dollars on paid bonds to the general fund and recoded $375,000 of bond expenditures to the bond budget.

The audit determined that the district’s assets exceeded its liabilities by more than $33.32 million and that the end fund balance was $329,093 or 0.85 percent of general fund revenues.

“(Gardner) did a fabulous job,” LeBlanc-Esparza said. “It was within a couple thousand dollars and that just speaks to her credibility and her skill set. She really dug in deep and got into the details to make sure we had what we thought we had. It was nice to see the confirmation that we absolutely know what our books are.”

Board member Melinda Van Bossyut did question Gardner and LeBlanc-Esparza about the exclusion of some student body funds from the audit.

The audit did include student body funds for a few district schools and, according to district spokeswoman Claudia Stewart, which schools have been included has been determined on a rotating basis in the past.

The board, superintendent and finance director agreed that all student body accounts should be included in future audits.

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