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Washington County school system passes audit

October 11, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Board of Education received good news last week about the financial status of Washington County Public Schools.

Mike Manspeaker, of Smith Elliott Kearns & Co., the Hagerstown accounting firm that conducted an independent audit of the school system's finances for fiscal year 2009, told the board during a Tuesday meeting that the results came back "clean."

"The audit went very well," Manspeaker said. "There were no concerns or issues we need to take to the elected board's attention."

The school system is required by law to be audited by an independent agency every year, said Chris South, chief financial officer for Washington County Public Schools. The auditor is chosen through a bidding process.

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South said the school system paid Smith Elliott & Kearns Co. $46,250 to conduct the audit.

The results indicated that the school system had overall revenues of $294.2 million and overall expenses of $281.4 million. A majority of those revenues, or about $133.2 million, came from state aid, according to audit results.

A majority of the expenses, or about $155.4 million, was attributed to instruction and instructional leadership.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she assumed that instruction and instructional leadership included teachers and principals.

The next three highest expenses were employee benefits, $57.6 million; operation and maintenance, $30.7 million; and student transportation, $10 million.

Morgan said that although the results of the audit were favorable, the school system will face financial challenges in the future because of state cutbacks.

"In the end, it's the students who will suffer," Morgan said. "We don't want that to happen."

Morgan credited the school system's strong fiscal health to South and his financial team.

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