State auditor general gives good grades to Cocalico School District

By on July 6, 2016

The Cocalico School District was one of the three school districts in Bucks, Lancaster, and Westmoreland counties for which audit reports were released by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on June 23.

And, there was good news: Cocalico played by the rules, e.g., prescribed procedures, and got good grades by the auditor general.

“The Cocalico School District …. Complied, in all significant respects, with applicable state laws, contracts, grant requirements and administrative procedures,” the auditor general’s office stated in releasing the information.

The audit covered the period of July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015. It focused on the district’s efficiency and effectiveness in the areas of school safety, contracting, bus driver requirements, and administrator contract buy-out.

The auditor general posed the following questions and reported the findings for them:

“Did the District take appropriate actions to ensure it provided a safe school environment?

* To address this objective, we reviewed a variety of documentation, including, but not limited to, safety plans, training schedules, anti-bullying policies, and after action reports.

Did the District ensure that its significant contracts were current and were properly obtained, approved, executed, and monitored?

* To address this objective, we reviewed the District’s procurement and contract monitoring policies and procedures. We obtained a list of vendors who provided goods and services to the District, in excess of $10,000, during the 2014-15 school year. We haphazardly selected five out of 152 vendors for detailed testing. Testing included a review of procurement documents to determine if the contract was procured in accordance with the Public School Code and District policies. We also reviewed documents to determine if the District properly monitored the selected contracts. Finally, we review board meeting minutes and the Board of School Directors’ Statements of Financial Interest to determine if any board members had a conflict of interest in approving the selected contracts.

Did the District ensure that bus drivers transporting students had the required driver’s license, physical exam, training, background checks, and clearances as outlined in applicable laws? Also, did the District have adequate written policies and procedures governing the hiring of new bus drivers?

* To address this objective, we selected 10 of the 75 bus drivers hired by the District bus contractors to transport students during the school years July 1, 2012 through April 21, 2016, and reviewed documentation to ensure the District complied with bus driver’s requirements. We also determined if the District had written policies and procedures governing the hiring of bus drivers and if those procedures were sufficient to ensure compliance with bus driver hiring requirements.

Did the District pursue a contract buy-out with an administrator, and if so, what was the total cost of the buy-out, what were the reasons for the termination/settlement, and did the current employment contract(s) contain adequate termination provisions?

* To address this objective, we reviewed the contract, board meeting minutes, board policies, and payroll records for the only individually contracted administrator who separated from the District during our audit period Sept. 12, 2012 through April 19, 2016.”

The audit was sent to Cocalico Superintendent Dr. Bruce Sensenig and board President Allen Dissinger in late June with an accompanying letter.

“Our audit found that the District performed adequately in the areas listed above,” stated DePasquale in the letter. “We appreciate the District’s cooperation during the course of the audit.”

The Department of the Auditor General examines the records of school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and area vocational-technical schools. The audits — among other things — assess whether or not school entities received the state subsidies and reimbursements to which they were entitled, accurately managed taxpayer funds, and complied with ethics codes. The audits also determine whether or not teachers and administrators were properly certified for the positions they held during the audit period.

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