The “good” review the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District received from a state audit determined the district was “well-managed” although it revealed a few minor concerns about documentation and purchasing bids, among other things.
In an interview Jan. 5 with the Journal, the district’s superintendent addressed those concerns and what the district is doing to sharpen some of its policies and procedures.
“A lot of what was is in the audit that created any concerns were more related to documentation and going back and repeating things that were already in place,” said David McGehee, superintendent for R-7 schools. “We’re looking at all of that...but I don’t think there were any real big surprises. We knew going in the way we do business isn’t the way the auditor would like for us to do business even in areas that aren’t necessarily a violation of policy or state statutes.”
A rating of good is defined by the state auditor as: “Results indicate this entity is well managed. The report contains few findings, and the entity has indicated most or all of the recommendations have already been, or will be, implemented. In addition, if applicable, many of the prior recommendations have been implemented.”
McGehee concurred that is precisely what is being done by the district in response to the audit.
“We had a talk (Jan. 4) about a contract to train all of our teachers and all of our staff in terms of safety and things like that,” he said. “It was like, ‘don’t forget that you need to go back through and make sure you document (the transaction.)’ People come to us all the time saying ‘we’ve looked at all of this and this is what we would like to do.’ Well, if that’s what you’d like to do then you need to go through the right process of documenting why that is the right provider for that particular service.
“There are little things like that that we are going to do better.”
The state auditor’s office randomly selected the R-7 district and announced early last year that the district’s operations would be subjected to review. The selection was not based on petitions from citizens or concerns about the district.
Auditors from Jefferson City were on-site in the school district for more than two months from mid-February through late April of last year. The audit included interviews, surveys and field work and was conducted at no cost to the R-7 School District.
Among the audit’s findings was the district had not adequately monitored transactions on district-issued purchasing cards and did not adequately monitor contract payments, and questioned the $25,000 membership fee the district pays to the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council when the minimum council’s benefits are available for $10,000.
“You can receive the minimum benefits by giving the minimum contributions,” McGehee said, “or you can be a real investor in the process and have a voice. The way I look at our relationship with the EDC ... I think we have a responsibility to commit to organizations like that in the community.”
The audit also noted the district’s collaboration with the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation did not have adequate written agreements.
“It isn’t a conversation we’ve had in the past,” McGehee said of the partnership. “I don’t necessarily know that it is a requirement, but based upon the audit we will work with the Foundation’s board to get at least a (memorandum of understanding) in place so that everyone is clear on what we’re covering and what we’re getting for it. I don’t think the audit was real critical of anything that was occurring; just get it in writing.”
According to McGehee, it is unusual for an organization to obtain the “excellent” or highest rating.
“Frankly, I don’t see us or any other school district in Missouri getting an ‘excellent’ rating,” he said. “When we asked the state auditor’s office how many ‘excellent’ ratings they had ever given, their response was one or two and that was primarily internal state agencies there in Jefferson City.”