State audit criticizes Monessen City School District’s financial reporting

September 23, 2018

The Monessen City School District is facing criticism for failing to submit timely financial statements, a move that has impacted the district’s credit rating and ability to fund school projects.

That’s according to a state audit released by the auditor general’s office Tuesday.

“The culture at the Monessen City School District needs to change,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said. “There is clearly a problem with keeping their financial house in order. Students in Monessen cannot afford to lose a single dollar that the district needs for classroom education and that is why mending the financial store is a critical responsibility.”

Financial statements for the 2015 fiscal year were 535 days late, according to the audit. Statements for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years were not issued as of June 1, 2018.

A private auditing firm hired by the district to complete the financial statements did not meet deadlines for submitting the statements. The district paid the firm prior to the completion of the work, “so the contractor had no fiscal incentive to meet the deadline,” according to a statement from DePasquale’s office.

The audit also found that the district superintendent falsely certified to the state Department of Education that the district’s independent financial report for the 2014-15 school year was completed -- 17 months before the report was actually done.

Monessen is soliciting proposals for auditing services, according to a statement from the district included in the state audit. The new request for proposals stipulates that audits must be completed by Sept. 30 each year, the statement said.

Other findings outlined in the state audit include issues with the district’s transportation data.

Districts are reimbursed by the state for transporting certain students who attend school outside of the district. The audit found that during the 2012-13 through the 2015-16 school years, the district incorrectly reported students who were not eligible for reimbursement. This resulted in $447,388 in overpayment to the district from the state Department of Education.

The district blames reporting errors on a lack of communication as a new business manager was taking over, according to the district response included in the state audit.

The full audit report is available at the Pennsylvania Auditor General website.

Monessen serves about 800 students across three school buildings.

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