LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Board of Education did not approve the 2019-20 unaudited actuals at Thursday night’s meeting.

State law requires that the Board approve the report by Sept. 15 of each year.

The Board voted 2-1, with member Amanda Parrell dissenting. Trustee John Rush was absent. The Board held a discussion after a presentation by Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Brian Hawkins. Board member Victoria Ruffin asked several questions. Board Clerk Jill McGrady asked one question. Parrell did not participate in the discussion.

The unaudited actuals is the annual statement of all receipts and expenditures for District funds for the preceding fiscal year, according to state Education Code Section 42100.

Some of the highlights from the 2019-21 fiscal year include a 31-1 student increase in the average daily attendance. Saturday school helped with the increase despite not having traditional school for the fourth quarter, Hawkins said.

AV Union High School District added social services personnel to increase support for student centers. The Child Nutrition Department served 835,296 meals from March 16 to July 30. The District also completed several major Career Technical Education projects, including a composite lab, a green house, and a sound engineering lab on a couple of campuses.

The District’s total targeted Local Control Funding Formula revenue is approximately $2315 million. The total unrestricted Local Control Funding Formula expenditures are approximately $233.5 million, of which salaries and benefits comprise 84%.

The District ended the 2019-20 fiscal year with an ending fund balance of approximately $36.7 million. That figure includes $8.56 million in targeted carry-over funds, and $8.59 million for the economic uncertainty account. The unappropriated amount for the District is about $18.2 million, an increase of about $3.2 million from last year.

Although the state collected more tax revenue at the July 15 deadline than anticipated, the economy is still in flux amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The state could see reduced tax revenue after the first quarter of the fiscal year.

California deferred about 45% of school revenue into the 2021-22 fiscal year. That means all school districts in the state will need a tax revenue anticipation notes to cover the shortfall. The District will receive reduced state revenue from February to May and nothing in June.

“They’ll push all of that into July,” Hawkins said. “With that, we still need to maintain money, cash, to be able to pay our bills, pay our staff and keep the lights on.”

Hawkins estimated the amount could be about $80 million to $85 million.

Deferrals are expected to continue in the 2021-22 fiscal year, since it is unlikely the state will pay back the 45% deferral from the current fiscal year on top of 100% of state funding for the next fiscal year.

“Therefore, state funding could be in peril for the next several years,” Hawkins cautioned.

McGrady asked Hawkins how many agencies review the district’s financials.

Hawkins explained multiple employees in the Business Department review the report for accuracy. An outside auditor will audit all of the District’s financial information to verify the report’s accuracy. The Los Angeles County Office of Education reviews the financial report before it is forwarded to the state controller’s officer.

The District’s bargaining units for classified and certificated employees also get a copy of the financial data to review as they bargain with the District. The federal government also performs an audit of all the federal programs.

Ruffin said she had questions for the independent auditing firm the Board unanimously hired in June 2019. The contract was with Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., which merged with Eide Bailly last year. Ruffin requested the firm’s telephone number to contact them directly.

“The face of learning is changing and has already shifted,” Ruffin said. “I’m just really hoping that we’re be able to secure jobs and employment in our school District. So I’m just really hoping that our data is accurate and it’s really showing real and true numbers about what we have vs what we don’t.”

She added that she hoped for an explanation of the $29 million in COVID-19 funds the District received.

“I can assure you that the accuracy of these numbers comes directly from the (California Department of Education),” Hawkins said. “So it’s not even a number that I make up or that we have anything to do with in regards to COVID-19 funding. I’m not sure if you’re aware that vast majority of this funding has to be spent by December 30, 2020. That would be in three months, unless the federal government changes the law.”

Hawkins noted the District has had an increase of about 424 students.

Ruffin also asked about a “messenger” letter she requested.

Hawkins asked Ruffin if she meant a “management” letter.

“I don’t know,” Ruffin said, adding she had questions about the letter.

A management letter is essentially a form letter written by an external auditor that attests to the accuracy of the financial statements submitted by the district to the firm for its analysis.

A copy of Eide Bailly’s audit for the 2018-19 fiscal year, including the management letter, was included with the Board’s Jan. 16 agenda.

Superintendent David Vierra clarified that he emailed a copy of the management letter and the office number of the auditor who completed the 2018-19 audit to the entire Board, including Ruffin, at 4:29 p.m. Sept. 3.

“I will send that out again this evening at the conclusion of this meeting,” Vierra said.

“Thank you, Dr. Vierra. I’ll take another look for the number,” Ruffin said.

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