The State Auditor’s Office has completed an audit of Williston Public School District #1 for the year ended June 30, 2021, in Williams County and has found 21 different areas of concern. District #1 merged with District #8 on July 1, 2021, to create the current District #7.
The School District received a disclaimer of opinion on its financial statements – which means sufficient information was not available to determine whether the reported financial statements were fairly presented. The current superintendent — as well as the business manager — were not employed by the school district during the audit period.
Some of the 21 areas of concern included:
Inaccurate Bank Reconciliations (page 53)
- Monthly bank reconciliation differences ranged from $2.9 million to $4.9 million. Because of the large difference in funds as well as missing documentation, this could be because of error or fraud.
- Reconciliations were not performed in July, August, or September of 2020.
- Reconciliations were performed months after they should have been.
- Adjustments were made to their June 30, 2021 cash accounts that ranged from negative $4 million to a positive $1.8 million which led to a net difference of $318,150 that was an unsupported adjustment to “school board other expenses”.
$377 Million in Unsupported Adjusted Journal Entries (page 54)
- $377 million of unsupported adjusting journal entries in the general ledger was discovered in the fiscal year 2021. $133 million of those entries were not approved. The majority of entries also did not have any documentation attached. Adjustments typically are not that high or frequent. When adjustments happen that frequently, there is a greater chance of intentional misrepresentation or error.
$6 Million in Debt not Included on Financial Statements (page 58)
- Special assessment debt totaling over $6 million was not included in District #1 financial statements. The special assessment debt was never included in the district’s prior financial statements.
No Record of School Board Approval for Nearly $2 Million in Purchases (page 62)
- For four out of the 55 expenses the Auditor’s Office reviewed, the district was unable to provide evidence of school board approval for expenses totaling $513,844.
- $1,269,795 in credit card expenses did not have approval from the school board.
Documentation of the approval process for these expenses was not available for the audit team to review.
Budget Out of Compliance with State Law (page 64)
- A budget for District #1 was not prepared in compliance with state law. Because there was no documentation of how budget estimates were compiled, tax levies for citizens in that District may have been calculated incorrectly.
“Our office applauds the citizens of Williston for being involved in their government and initiating this petition audit,” said State Auditor Joshua Gallion. “Clearly, with 21 findings their concerns were justified. The district has already completed a Corrective Action Plan and is taking swift action to address these issues.”
This audit came from citizens in Williston filing a petition audit with the Auditor’s Office. The Williston Public School District petition request required 707 signatures to obtain an audit or review, they received 988 signatures. This is the sixth petition audit the Auditor’s Office has received.
The audit period was from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. The full audit can be viewed here https://ndsao.link/Williston1.