The video snippet above is part of the January 5th Board meeting where Craig Popenhagen of Clifton Larson Allen presented the results of the FY16 Audit to the members of our school board. At that meeting Gwen Rostad, District Director of Finance, was given high praise for her work on this annual report.
Superintendent Abraham: "To have absolutely no findings from MDE - how common is that?"
Mr. Popenhagen: "That is very uncommon. It's rare."
Superintendent Abraham: "I would like everybody publicly to know how uncommon that is [that there are no findings from MDE]. We have a Director of Finance who does an absolutely phenomenal job so I'd like to make sure she is given the commendation that she so richly deserves."
I talked with Gwen Rostad to understand why the FY16 Audit results were such an accomplishment.
First of all, what is the FY16 Audit? SOURCE MDE: "Annually, school districts in Minnesota are required to have an annual independent financial audit, to submit audited financial data to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) electronically, and to submit all required components of the audit report to MDE and to the Office of the State Auditor."
What is a finding? Gwen: A finding is when they (the auditors) find something not done according to guidelines.
Can you give me examples of what some of the guidelines are? Gwen:
Rules from the Department of Education: there are hundreds
Legal Statutes: there are 50+- legal statues to adhere to
Our own School Board procedures and policies must be 100% followed
Must be based on Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, the federal Single Audit Act, and the Minnesota Legal Compliance Guide issued by the Office of the State Auditor
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)
The audit report is clearly quite an undertaking! What are the reasons for your success? Gwen:
Everyone is aware of procedures and policies and is willing to adhere to them
We work proactively with the auditors
If there is a new regulation or guideline, I call the auditor to make sure I understand how it needs to be handled
MDE training is offered for employees in the District office
The Region V accounting system contains checks and balances that are used to make sure things are done correctly
Other contributing factors to Gwen's success are a Bachelor degree in accounting, Minnesota Association of School Business Officials (MASBO)certification, and the qualities of being particular, diligent, thorough, precise, and accurate.
Here is what Gwen has to say about her accomplishment:
"I work with a bunch of amazing people. That’s what makes a great audit report possible.” ~ Gwen Rostad