Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released her audit of cash handling procedures at the Waynesville School District, located in Pulaski County. District officials requested an audit of money handling processes after identifying a discrepancy in certain financial records this spring. While the Missouri State Highway Patrol pursued an investigation relating to those concerns, the State Auditor's Office took action to identify potential weaknesses relating to cash handling procedures across the district's schools and extracurricular programs.
"Parents are often shocked to learn just how much cash is being handled by school district employees and, in some cases, by students. From football game tickets to fundraisers to yearbooks, cash payments quickly add up, and it's critical that districts put procedures in place to ensure funds are used as intended," Auditor Galloway said. "My team found districtwide problems in Waynesville, including a general lack of guidance to employees about how to keep necessary records. Some major district programs handle large amounts of cash each year, and protecting student funds starts with eliminating opportunities for misuse."
Auditors found that the district failed to instruct employees on proper handling, depositing and recording of cash payments. As a result, there were insufficient records for auditors or district personnel to conduct thorough reviews of payments made to each school or program. Processes varied across the district, and only one school had developed staff instructions for handling payments received.
In addition to recommending clearer cash handling procedures, auditors advised district officials to conduct independent reviews of the financial activities of employees. In too many cases, a small number of employees were responsible for all steps of handling cash — from receiving payments to depositing and recording those payments — with little supervisory oversight.
"The first step in preventing problems is identifying weaknesses and creating stronger protections for funds," Auditor Galloway said. "Waynesville officials have begun the process of putting safeguards in place, and I believe that work will directly benefit students and families."
The complete audit report for the Waynesville School District's cash handling procedures can be found online here.