News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 21, 2018
CSD reviews audit findings with accountant

by Tevlin Schuetz

The CSD board discussed past finances among other issues during its regular monthly meeting on June 5.

School Union 76 Superintendent Chris Elkington welcomed Ronald Bean, accountant from James W. Wadman CPAs in Ellsworth, who spoke to about the school system’s finances.

Bean said that while some adjustments have been necessary, the school administration continues to be on track toward tightening its financial management following lapses that occurred a few years ago. Bean has been working with staff at the union office, who continue to train and gain ground, despite the system being made more cumbersome by new state regulations, he said.

The process will take time, however.

“Over a three-year window, we expect to see improvements,” Bean said.

In 2016, general ledger entries and accounts receivable required reconciliations, Bean said, especially around grant programs and their tracking. Cost center transfers exceeded 5 percent in a few cases, and there were bank reconciliations that had not been done during the course of the year, he said.

“There were some pretty significant adjustments,” Bean said.

But those issues were dealt with, Bean said, as a matter of keeping compliant with state regulations.

To support improved management of finances, Elkington and the board will appoint a two-member finance committee, which will meet ahead of monthly board meetings. Elkington has asked the other Union 76 schools to do the same thing, he said.

The board also discussed account surplus with Bean. While there is no official recommendation for the amount of money which should be held in surplus (as a percent of total expenditures), Bean said, the Maine Municipal Association counsels a minimum of 10 to 12 percent for municipalities. The CSD falls within this range, Bean said.

Other business

CSD Board chairman Jane Osborne brought a draft of the strategic planning mission statement before the board for a first reading. The document consists of a condensed vision statement followed by a list of long- and short-term goals to be implemented over the next five years.

The strategic planning subcommittee tasked with exploring potential school restructuring scenarios is now fully manned; there are no open positions, Elkington said. Over the coming months, the committee will perform research, hold public meetings and investigate options—including visiting other school systems that have restructured—in order to find the best solutions. The group will present its finding early in 2019.