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Gainesville school system’s debt comes in smaller than expected

State audit covering fiscal year 2008 has been completed

POSTED: June 18, 2009 12:57 a.m.

Gainesville school system’s final deficit figure has settled at $5.45 million.

Following the completion of an extensive state audit of fiscal year 2008, which ended June 30, Gainesville schools’ Chief Financial Officer Janet Allison said she and state auditors determined the system had a deficit of $5.45 million in June 2008 rather than the estimated $5.6 million.

Because the school board had been using the $5.6 million deficit figure in financial planning, the difference will play into the final financial year 2010 budget proposal the board will consider next week.

The board will likely submit a revised deficit reduction plan to the state for approval.

Allison said the exact figure is a big step in helping the system to get back on track financially.

"We know where we stand. We can evaluate where we are every month based on results from that month’s activity," she said. "It helps us to monitor the budget to actuals."

The system had not been able to close its fiscal 2007 and fiscal year 2008 books by the state’s Sept. 30 deadline, but Allison said she aims to have this fiscal year’s books closed by the deadline.

"We weren’t able to do that last year of the year before because we were just delayed in getting all the pieces put together where we could close all the books," she said.

Allison said computer software glitches and program adjustments exacerbated accounting errors which delayed the closing of the books and resulted in a late state audit of fiscal year 2008. If the books for fiscal year 2008 had been closed by the Sept. 30 deadline, she said, the state likely would have been able to complete the fiscal year 2008 audit by January.

The $5.45 million deficit figure was determined according to the Gainesville Board of Education financial statements, Allison said. She said a state audit of the system, which is expected to be published in the next few weeks, will reveal a deficit figure which is about $1.8 million smaller.

Allison explained the state audit deficit figure will reflect a smaller number because it represents a different basis of accounting.

The Gainesville system will use the $5.45 million figure for its purposes of budgeting and reducing the deficit, she said.



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