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Gainesville City Schools gets clean audit
System to exit state oversight
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The Gainesville School System will no longer be under state supervision following an audit report during Monday night’s board meeting.

According to Tommy Harp, the board’s audit supervisor, there were no findings last fiscal year and the board’s fund balance has topped $9 million as of June 30, 2011.

“This is the first totally clean audit (since 2008),” said Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent. “There are no areas of concern. Everything is back where it needs to be.”

The report puts a capstone on the efforts to combat a $6 million deficit just under four years ago.

As of July of 2011, the board was in the black, but the audit noted a payroll issue.

The last report suggested the board create a clear separation between departments that calculate and process payroll.

According to Harp, that issue has been put to rest.

“It’s a good step,” said Harp. “It’s taken a lot of hard work from the people here to get (to) this point from a few years ago.”

The board welcomed the news.

“This is phenomenal,” said member Sammy Smith. “You just confirmed the confidence we have in our professionals that run the system.”

Since last year, the system did not have to send monthly reports per its recovery plan, but was still under state watch.

Now, following the clean audit, the system can operate as normal.

“It’s closure to our recovery,” said Dyer.

The discovery of the large deficit in 2008 lead to the firing of former Superintendent Steve Ballowe.

The system was placed under a four-year recovery plan by the state and has since chipped away at the total.

It now boasts about $9.7 million in its fund balance.

“School systems across the state are having to dip into fund balances to provide services,” said Dyer. “So it’s critical to have that fund balance.”

In 2007, that balance was $778,449. At the end of 2008, the fund balance was in the red more than $3 million.

That was cut in half by 2009.

“I have seen steady progress since I came on the board,” said Delores Diaz, Ward 4 representative, who began her term after the deficit was announced. “I know where we were and where we are today, and we have seen tremendous gains. Now we’re at a place where we can actually focus on some things other than finance.”

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