By Dana Trumbull
Annual Financial Audit Presentation
Dennis Osuch of CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, the firm that conducted a recent audit of Apache Junction Unified School District’s financial documents and procedures, summarized the auditors’ findings with the statement, “Apache Junction has a very clean audit: no material weaknesses; two significant deficiencies, which isn’t even unusual; and, really, the USFR had very few findings. I think a lot of credit goes to Cindy Reichert and her team.”
Osuch explained, “When we do all of our audits, it’s a risk-based approach… School districts are so expenditure driven, that can be a high risk area, so we do more detail testing on those areas that we assess as higher risk; but that doesn’t mean we ignore other areas. We still perform at least some basic procedures to test those other areas, as well as surprise procedures and the rotation of audit procedures.”
The financial statement is in three parts: introductory, basic financial statements, and the statistical section. The auditors do not issue opinions on the introductory section (background details) or the statistical section, which contains ten years of data for comparison. For the financial statements section, however, the auditors labeled the AJUSD audit “Clean.”
Approval for the 2017-18 budget adoption passed 5-0.
Teacher Salary Increase
Pursuant to AZ Laws 2017, Ch. 305, §33, the Board approved a mandated 1.06% addendum to be paid to qualifying teachers in two increments: half in December 2017 and half in May 2018. This allocation is not a true salary increase, but a one-time, State funded stipend paid only to those teachers who were employed as teachers during the 2016-17 fiscal year and will continue working as teachers throughout the 2017-18 fiscal year. “It doesn’t matter where the employee taught in 2016-17, as long as it was in Arizona,” explained Reichert. “If they are continuing as teachers in Arizona, they qualify for this addendum. New teachers, teachers who just moved to Arizona, or teachers who left district employment and came back this year (including those working for the district through SmartSchools) do not qualify, according to the verbiage in the law.”
The 1.06% teacher pay increase was passed as a part of the State budget in early May, 2017. The budget provides an appropriation to support the pay increase in FY2018 and specifies the intent to provide an additional 1.06% increase in FY2019. This appropriation is separate from the base level and is provided based on a district’s total payroll for teachers in the current fiscal year. The Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), however, has stated that it will not consider this to be a permanent pay increase for teachers unless and until it is provided as an increase to the per-student base level amount.
Public Comments included a statement from Braden Biggs praising Board member and Superintendent participation at the July 4, 2017 celebration at Davis Field. “It was an amazing sight to see Dr. Anderson, four days into the ‘real job’ by then, taking part in one of our public community events.” Biggs also expressed disappointment that district leaders did not attend the memorial service for the spouse of a long-time district employee.
Roberto Reveles commented, encouraging residents of Pinal County to sign a petition opposing the expansion of the State school voucher program. The political action committee Arizona Save Our Schools is attempting to collect 75,000 signatures on a petition by August 1. “If we do that, the expansion of the school voucher program will be placed on hold until the public has an opportunity to vote at the next general election in November.” Reveles made himself available streetside, per State electioneering laws, after the Board meeting for those who wished to sign the petition.
The consent agenda passed 5-0, approving the hiring of 16 certified employees (teachers) and 3 classified employees and the resignations of 7 employees.
Also approved with the consent agenda was the annual renewal of the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Vail Unified School District to continue the Beyond Textbooks Program, which provides district schools with curriculum, resources, and collaboration opportunities. The $25,000 cost reflects a $15,000 reduction.
The annual renewal of the IGA with Central Arizona College (CAC) was also approved, allowing Apache Junction High School (AJHS) students to enroll in college level courses that count toward both high school and college graduation requirements. Several AJHS students who have participated in the dual enrollment program in the past have graduated from CAC with associates degrees concurrent to their high school graduation.