Harrisburg School District needed to make improvements in four areas of financial management in order to regain control of the school system’s finances, according to an August report released by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
The report, published Tuesday, noted that Harrisburg’s new leadership has forged ahead by executing each by developing a business manual, executing staff training on new fiscal control processes, as well as hiring a permanent chief financial officer and accountant.
During a state audit shared in 2019, conducted by the state Department of Education, officials discovered there were “missing invoices, incomplete purchase orders, a lack of reviews prior to payment, and over $2 million in unsupported expenditures over a three-year period,” DePasquale’s report noted.
He called the former way of doing bookkeeping in the distict’s business office “a royal mess.”
“The state-appointed receiver, Dr. Janet Samuels, deserves credit for quickly hiring new staff and instituting needed financial controls and cash disbursement policies and procedures,” DePasquale said.
He continued: “Strong internal controls over cash disbursements are essential to prevent and promptly detect fraud, waste, and abuse. I’m pleased to report that the Harrisburg School District’s new leadership is making strides in the right direction, which benefits students and taxpayers.”
DePasquale last year announced he would keep an eye on Harrisburg’s money management right before the state Department of Education placed the school district into financial receivership. His next audit will focus on the school district’s payroll operations.
“Just like districts across Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg School District faces new financial challenges due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic,” DePasquale said. “It’s more important than ever for districts to carefully track every nickel to make sure that all available resources can be focused on educating students.”
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