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Anderson County Schools

Anderson County Schools Audit Findings Disclosure
Annually, school districts in Kentucky are audited by an independent certified public accountant that is reported to the Kentucky Department of Education. For the school year ending on June 30th, 2021, the Anderson County Board of Education was audited by Denise Keene, a CPA from Georgetown, Ky. In the effort of full disclosure, Anderson County Schools would like to voluntarily disclose the findings of that report to our stakeholders.

For last school year, the Anderson County Board of Education received an audit with an unmodified opinion, meaning in all material respects the financial statements fairly represent the financial position of the district. In fact, per the audit report, Keene notes, “during our audit we did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be material weaknesses.” Additionally, there were no repeat findings from previous audits, which means that any previous findings on past audits have been remedied by the Board. Overall, the Board has been deemed a “low risk auditee” for which the auditor “noted no transactions by the District during the year for which there is a lack of authoritative guidance or consensus.” The audit report was, overall, a positive representation of the financial health of our school district. And all in the face of the pandemic.

Given the unprecedented situation in schools across the country due to COVID, the Anderson County Board of Education had to continually make changes to the layout of classrooms, to respond to teacher and substitute shortages, to ensure the safety and health of our students/staff/families, and to present their best effort to keep students learning at the highest level possible—doing everything they could to get students back into the classroom safely. As residents of Anderson County are aware, the Anderson County Board of Education was quick to respond to the call of keeping our students learning by providing Chromebooks to all students grades K-12 so students could learn virtually while the district made plans for redesigning classrooms for students to safely return to where we know they learn best—in our schools.

What made the preparation for that redesign and the response to the pandemic in general so difficult to budget was two-fold. First, requirement standards by the CDC for safety during the pandemic have continually been in flux, all in addition to public health mandates as well as Kentucky Department of Education expectations. Second is the standard practice of school budget creation. Our Board of Education creates a budget for the upcoming school year during January, based upon prior years and estimates. That budget is then tentatively approved in May and finalized in September. This meant, when COVID hit full force in March 2020, the Board of Education had to approve a budget without fully knowing the ramifications of the pandemic on the classroom. By July 1, 2020, the hope was that we were moving in a good direction and there was talk of funding supports to get students back into classrooms, but still budgeting was difficult. It was challenging for the Board to know the cost of getting students back into the seats of our classrooms when they didn’t know what the requirements would be to do just that. Learning along the way, the guidance would change sometimes daily or weekly.  

Superintendent Mitchell was in touch weekly with the Kentucky Department of Education, who advised the Board that FEMA would reimburse much of the expenses incurred in dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic. The Board retained documentation of expenses, began the application process, and met with FEMA. By September 2020, Anderson Board of Education, operating under the assumption of a future reimbursement, did everything they needed to prepare for students to return to in-person learning. Roughly six months later, the Board was notified that, despite previous expectations, FEMA would not be reimbursing those additional pandemic-related expenses. As a result, the audit report found that the Board spent an additional $750,000 that had to be paid from the general contingency fund, the purpose of which is to meet urgent or unforeseen expenditures like those incurred by an unexpected pandemic.

According to Jana Moulton, Chief Financial Officer for Anderson County Schools, “We did our best given what we knew at the time to protect our students and staff. Due to changing expectations, we adjusted as we were going. However, once the working budget was approved, the only thing we could do to fund the additional expense was to pull from our contingency fund.” In full transparency, that additional expenditure helped the school district fund the following costs, among others:
Delivering meals to youth (birth to age 18) for all children in Anderson County, despite enrollment status in Anderson County Public Schools to ensure no children were hungry during the pandemic
Hiring of additional custodial staff as well as purchasing of supplementary cleaning equipment (chemical disinfectant, hand sanitizer, sprayers, etc) to create a clean and safe environment and adhere to the CDC guidance
Planning for the changing nature of classrooms: purchase of teacher carts rather than desks to allow more room for social distancing of desks, partitions, individual desks for classrooms rather than tables or pods to create distance between students
Purchasing additional elements for student and staff safety like masks and thermometers as well as bottle-fill stations throughout schools so students could have no-touch access to water
Hiring six full-time substitute positions in response to a substitute teacher shortage—one full-time substitute assigned to each school
Arranging for the technological needs for students to learn virtually when necessary: individually issuing each student grades K-12 a Chromebook; purchasing learning platforms to facilitate rigorous learning despite teaching virtually; increasing insurance against cyber extortion plus addendum to the insurance related to COVID and data compromise from $250,000 coverage to $1 million; and allowing 575 students, once schools returned to in-person, continued participation in the high school’s virtual learning program with full access to academic and social/emotional support
Paying additional stipends to faculty and funding necessary supplies for summer camps in 2020 to transition students back to in-person learning, to provide remediation for students who struggled with virtual learning during the previous months, and to ensure access to social and emotional support for our district’s students. On-site internet access was also provided by several schools in the district four days a week so students could get one-on-one support where needed, with transportation provided for those students both to and from schools for tutoring, individual instruction, and internet access needs
Covering additional emergency pay for essential workers, which included custodians, food-service workers, bus drivers, daycare workers—anyone who worked during the early months of the pandemic at greatest risk of contracting COVID
Funding the purchase of school supplies for individual students to use for learning. Supplies that could previously be provided for communal use in the classroom had to be provided individually to limit contact

Despite the additional expenditures Anderson County Board of Education incurred during the 2020/2021 school year and paid for out of the general contingency fund, that contingency fund remains at 10%; state law requires only a 2% contingency. The additional 8% in the contingency fund above the state requirement in spite of the additional cost for COVID response reveals the healthy financial position of Anderson County Board of Education and the effective planning by its Chief Financial Officer, ending the year with the district’s net position increased by over $1.5 million from the prior fiscal year.

Most importantly, the steps provided by the Anderson County Board of Education in response to COVID have kept as their focus the well-being of its stakeholders despite the cost. In the face of the setbacks and complications in education caused by COVID, all schools in Anderson County were well above the state’s average participation rate for the Kentucky Summative Assessment, Robert B. Turner Elementary students scored above the state average in Proficient and Distinguished in all academic areas, Anderson County High School ranked in the top 25% for Kentucky ACT performance based on average composite scores and above the state average in all ACT content areas, and, most significantly, the stakeholders of Anderson County Schools saw the impact of a Board willing to do whatever possible to care for its students, faculty, and families in times of need. According to Superintendent Sheila Mitchell, “In a time of unexpected changes and unprecedented  requirements to keep our students safe, I am proud of our Board for making hard decisions, prudently meeting each need as it presented itself, and showing above all that our most important duty is to care for those in our community—our students and beyond.”

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Anderson County Schools    1160 Bypass North    Lawrenceburg, KY 40342    502-839-3406
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Equal Opportunity
The Anderson County School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities and provides equal access to designated youth groups. Inquiries may be directed to the Anderson County Title IX Coordinator, Travis Harley. He may be contacted at the district office, located at 1160 Bypass N. Lawrenceburg, KY 40342; by phone at 502-839-3406 or by email at [email protected]
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