CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The Katonah-Lewisboro School District received a thumbs up in a recent risk-assessment review of its policies and finance reports from Accume Partners, a professional services firm that provides internal audits, regulatory compliance and risk and governance services.
“The good news is there are no areas of high risk,” said David Moran, director of education practice for Accume.
The review included interviews with district staff, an evaluation of its informational technology, a review of documentation such as school board polices, financial reports and meeting minutes, and confirmation of key internal controls.
Moran said risk is defined as the internal and external factors that threaten the achievement of the district’s mission and goals. An area can be rated as a high risk if it lacks sufficient controls and procedures for key processes.
The categories included in the assessment included: budget, finance and accounting; debt, investment and cash; revenue, purchasing, human resources and payroll; facilities and capital assets; Information Technology (IT); student services; government aid and grants. Each category can receive a risk rating of low, medium or high. The district scored a rating of medium in every category except debt, investment and cash, where it was rated as low. The 2011-12 report was nearly identical to last year’s assessment.
However, Moran noted that the IT score declined from a medium rating of 198 to 193, which he said was significant. A lower number indicates less risk.
“That’s a major achievement,” he said. “IT is important because it can undermine everything the district does.”
The report recommended that the district also perform an audit of staff and student attendance systems, including employee attendance and leave policies, student attendance policies, attendance accounting systems, and data management and communication, which would provide actions to improve the attendance and truancy rates.
School Board Trustee Janet Harckham said the report’s rankings should be put in context, noting that most school districts never obtain a “low” rating.
“’Medium’” is quite good to an internal auditor,” Moran said. “’Medium’ is high praise.”
Board President Mark Lipton said the district administrators deserved the credit for the positive assessment report.
“We need to tip our hats to our two assistant superintendents, Mike Jumper and Carol Ann Lee,” he said. “They brought us through some treacherous waters.”