York City District addresses critical audit, disputes Auditor General's Office

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale outlines the findings of an audit of the York City School District, Thursday, April 20, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo
  • An April York City School District audit report from the Auditor General outlined 4 findings.
  • Among them, an issue regarding three months of receipts that called the district's recordkeeping into question.
  • The district has implemented several reforms since the audit was released.

Four months after an audit revealed lax record-keeping, the York City School District says it's taking steps to reform its accounting practices.

In an April news conference, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale slammed the district’s lack of documentation for $104,000 in spending for the months of July, August and September 2015.

“Maybe everything was fine, maybe somebody went to Bermuda,” he said at the time.

The 73-page audit also pointed out that the district’s credit card spending nearly quadrupled between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

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At the district’s July 19 board meeting, business manager Richard Snodgrass reported the credit card purchases for the 2015-16 fiscal year and said much of the $1.5 million in charges made that year was used to pay bills.

According to Snodgrass, $218,796 was spent on payments directly made to vendors for purchases such as books and supplies, computer equipment, software and staff training.

Snodgrass explained that the district increased use of an American Express credit card to receive rebates from the company. According to the financial report, the district received $13,270 from the credit card company's rebate program in February 2016 and nearly $15,000 in February 2017.

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Documents disputed: District spokeswoman Erin James said in a statement via email that receipts for July, August and September 2015 were not immediately provided to the auditor general’s staff because a longtime employee who maintained the documents in a separate location at the district had left the district.

After the auditor’s preliminary report, James said, the district delivered all receipts for the period in question to the Auditor General’s Office. 

Susan Woods, press secretary for the Auditor General’s Office, said the district provided some receipts after the draft audit was presented to them, but not all.

When reached for comment in response to Woods, Snodgrass said Woods' statement was untrue and declined further comment.

When reached again Wednesday, Aug. 9, Woods stood by her comments.

"Our auditors do not have anywhere near everything," she said with regard to those three months.

Even after the Auditor General’s Office received documents for the three months, DePasquale said he had “zero confidence” the records were accurate.

Woods added auditors would review the district's changes for the next audit, but it "won't change the final audit" published in April.

The York City School District has offered to let The York Dispatch review the receipts, and the Dispatch has accepted that offer and will do so at the school district's convenience.

Changes: The district is implementing changes in response to the audit, James said.

The issue regarding district receipts “called the district’s record-keeping system into question, and we agreed with the Auditor General’s Office that issues of oversight and documentation needed to be addressed,” James said.

She added that most of a new credit card usage policy has been implemented at the district. The new policy is expected to begin in the fall.

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In addition, a technology audit initially scheduled for sometime in the 2017-18 school year has been underway for several months. It was expedited after the state audit outlined issues on the district’s technology equipment inventory, according to James. 

The audit stated randomized tests revealed a significant amount of IT equipment was missing or misplaced.

A criticism in DePasquale's audit surrounding cellphone lines also has been corrected, according to James.

She said the district has implemented a new cellphone use policy to address the auditor general’s criticisms regarding blurred personal/professional use as well as the $145,000 in mobile service payments the district made in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

An estimate from the Auditor General's Office placed the cost of unused wireless lines in the district at $25,000.

DePasquale also criticized a lenient mobile phone policy that he said had no way of governing mobile phone use for professional or personal use.

The district has reduced the number of cellphone lines by nearly 50 percent, according to James.

The district will send information about the changes to the Auditor General's Office when the recommended changes have fully taken effect, according to James.