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Manatee School Board Signs Up for More Auditing Services as District's Financial Crisis Goes on


BRADENTON – A large part of Tuesday's Manatee School Board regular meeting hovered around topics relating to the ongoing financial crisis of the district; in the middle of it all, board members voted to approve part of an agreement with Shinn & Co. to extend the internal auditing services of the local firm performs for the district.

The meeting was often tense and was marked with warnings from Superintendent Rick Mills and board members who stressed the direness of the board's financial situation, with up to $10 million in fines hanging over the district's head from the state Auditor General, and a need for timely action to attempt to mitigate the enormous fees.

Superintendent Rick Mills especially stressed the district's grave situation, noting that Manatee County's school district had the worst recent financial record out of any Florida county in many aspects, including failure to meet fund balance for five consecutive years; failing to balance its budget for the past two years (overspending by $4.1 million the first year, and then by $8.6 million the most recent year). Mills said that in discussions with his deputy Superintendents Don Hall and Diana Greene, all had agreed that the district was "the most dysfunctional organization" that any of them had every worked in.

Part of the district's effort to get its financial house in order included last year's hiring of firm Shinn & Co. to perform internal auditing services, who presented the board with a three-part extended services plan after the district requested such from the firm.

During the meeting, the board gave its approval for Shinn & Co. to perform procedures over four schools that have had changes in principals or bookeepers during the current fiscal year, for a cost that would not exceed $2,000 per school. 

After acknowledging the limited amount of time that the district has had to review the extended services letter, which was sent to board members on Friday, the board and presenter Byron Shinn agreed during the presentation that the district's volunteer Audit Committee ought to review parts 1 and 3 of the extended services letter and discuss said parts with the board before a decision should be reached on whether to accept.


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