De Soto School District officials commit to implement recommendations outlined by Auditor Galloway in citizen-requested audit

Report highlights concerns with contracts, district compensation, accounting controls, attendance data, emergency drills, other areas

During a public meeting today, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway presented the findings from a citizen-requested audit of De Soto School District #73, which includes parts of Jefferson, St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties. The audit detailed concerns in several areas, including how the district monitored contracts, compensation, cash collected at athletic events and attendance data. The district committed to changing processes and procedures in response to the audit findings.

"Taxpayers petitioned my office to take a thorough and independent look at the school district to help answer their questions and concerns, and our audit found several areas for improvement " Auditor Galloway said. "I am encouraged district officials appear to be taking this report seriously and moving forward with our recommendations so they can better serve the district."

The district has weaknesses in its procurement and contracting processes, the audit found. These weaknesses included not always maintaining documentation of the reasoning for some procurement decisions and not monitoring all contracts effectively. The report also found the district was not consistently requiring adequately detailed invoices to support payments.

The importance of contract oversight was underscored in April 2019, when the district became aware of the mishandling of food service money at a school. The district relied on vendor controls to ensure funds received for meals were properly recorded and deposited. Those controls and procedures were not in place, resulting in irregularities involving a vendor employee at one school. The Jefferson County Sheriff's office has been contacted about the matter, and the Board of Education has contracted for a forensic audit.

The report recommended additional oversight related to compensation decisions and noted the Board of Education has not always approved all compensation provided to employees. The report also found hours recorded in the district time clock system for some employees were not always used to support their compensation.

Additionally, the district has no documented basis for the $500 monthly vehicle allowance provided to the superintendent and did not report the extra compensation on the superintendent's W-2 form. District officials responded to the finding by renegotiating the superintendent's contract and removing the car allowance as a specific item of compensation.

The audit also found the need for improvements in the handling of student and athletic fees and concession sales to ensure they are not at risk of loss or theft. The report recommended the Board ensure those funds are properly receipted and deposited in a timely manner, and receipts are reconciled to deposits. During the 2017-18 school year, the district collected approximately $29,000 in admission fees at athletic events and $52,000 in concession sales.

The audit also identified concerns with the reporting and documentation of attendance information related to homebound students. The audit found 46 percent of homebound attendance may have been over-reported to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, resulting in approximately $30,000 in excess state funding to the district.

The audit raised concerns the district did not sufficiently document that all required emergency drills were performed. In its response, the school board indicated the required drills will be performed and documented appropriately.

"Audits get results, and with this audit, the De Soto School District is taking several actions to address the concerns raised," Auditor Galloway said.

The complete audit report can be found here.