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Cutting costs beefs up Perham-Dent's balances

Budget reductions, along with an increase in pupils and state aid, led to an 11.5 percent increase in the Perham-Dent School District's net assets, according to a 2012 audit.

Brady Martz Certified Public Accountants and Consultants presented the audit to the school board via Skype last week.

According to the audit, "Total revenues surpassed expenses, increasing net assets" by roughly $1 million over last year. "Increases in the district's net assets are an indicator of whether its financial position is improving."

The district's general fund balance showed an increase of 13 percent for three reasons, according to the audit: There was an increase of pupils from the preliminary budget, an increase of base formula aid from Minnesota Department of Education, and budget reductions were implemented in the 2011-12 school year.

"The school is in good financial shape because the school board and administration have been very vigilant about making budget reductions when needed, so that the school is not deficit spending," stated business manager Kristi Werner in an email to the newspaper.

The audit shows property taxes and state aid payments account for 86 percent of the district's total revenue. Because ofthis, the report states, "the political environment at the state level will have a significant effect on future finances."

While the district received a clean audit, it did reveal one small discrepancy in how the district prepares its financial statements: "The district does not have the internal resources to identify all journal entries required to maintain a general ledger and prepare full-disclosure financial statements."

According to Brady Martz, this continues to be a common problem for districts of Perham-Dent's size. Because of the discrepancy, a corrective action plan was prepared by the district to provide additional annual training to personnel. Personnel and the district also plan to work more closely with an accounting firm in the preparation of the statement.

The levy recently approved by voters for buildings and grounds upgrades and new technology was not a factor in this audit.

In other news, the school board:

-Heard a report from Werner, who said the district recently certified a weekly food menu with the Federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This certification gives the district an additional 6 cents per meal in federal reimbursements - an annual sum of $12,000.

-Was presented with the orchestra enrollment numbers by teacher Rachel Mertens. Most grades showed an increased level of participation over last year.