Perham-Dent school audit comes back 'clean'

The annual audit is an opinion on the district’s financial statements. The goal for Perham-Dent was to continue the clean rating — meaning accurate and unmodified — that the district has had in the past. A recent audit shows that goal was achieved.

Perham School Audit CashInvestments 2021.jpg
The 2021 audit report showed a “big dip” in cash and investments for the Perham-Dent School District from 2020 to 2021. The decrease was planned, and was not a surprise to the district or auditors. (Contributed / Eide Bailly / Perham Focus)

With a “clean” audit report from Eide Bailly, Perham-Dent School board members approved the year’s financial statements at their most recent meeting Dec. 8.

The annual audit is an opinion on the district’s financial statements. The goal for Perham-Dent was to continue the clean rating — meaning accurate and unmodified — that the district has had in the past, as Eide Bailly partner Brian Stavenger explained. As the recent audit shows, that goal was achieved.

Eide Bailly's report was presented at the meeting and included graphs and other information on the district's general fund over the past 10 years.

The audit included three findings for the district to take note of, related to: preparation of financial statements, material journal entries, and a failure to have a student signature on a student activity check request. The district receives assistance on the preparation of its state aid and property tax estimates and the financial statements, which is common for smaller entities, as Stavenger said, and the student activity rules are “pretty picky” and the signature process can easily be fixed.

The audit also showed that the district has a strong payroll, without anomalies between pay and hours. Stavenger said payroll costs are generally 75-80% of a district’s expenses.


Another portion of the audit was a federal funds audit, a requirement for districts that received and spent over $750,000 in federal funds. Perham’s federal expenditures totaled about $2.3 million.

Like other districts across the country, Perham received federal coronavirus relief funds, and that changed the district's projected revenue since the amount of those funds were initially unknown. Thus the district’s revenue shows a 4.1% difference between the final and actual budgets. The expenditures show a -6.1% difference due to a required accounting entry for the gymnastics building lease. Stavenger said the amount is a “net zero impact” and complimented the district for being “spot on” in projected expenditures.

The district has a general fund balance of about $1.5 million, which is split into nonspendable, restricted, assigned, committed, and unassigned categories. State aid, for example, must go in the restricted category and can only be used for certain costs. The district has about $1.2 million in the unassigned category; its goal is to have at least $500,000.

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The Perham-Dent School District has set a minimum goal of $500,000 for its unrestricted and unassigned fund balance. That goal has not been reexamined in recent years, and board members hope to discuss adjusting it at another meeting in the near future. (Contributed / Eide Bailly / Perham Focus)

Board members Mike Hamann and Sue Von Ruden said Perham set that $500,000 minimum in 2008, when the fund balance was “a lot lower.”

“The fund balance is going to go up and down depending on special projects, philosophies at the board level, funding from the state, funding from the federal government. It’s going to fluctuate,” Stavenger said. “You have been trending downward the last three years. I’m not super concerned… Talking with Mitch and Kristi and others, (they) very much understand where the district’s finances are, and where they’re going.”

Board members plan to discuss adjusting the fund balance minimum in the future. Stavenger recommended having a percentage instead of a dollar amount.


Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved the final 2022 levy of $5,855,250.03. The levy is down 2.19% from 2021.
  • Approved a Costa Rica trip being planned for high school students. After a 2020 trip to Peru was canceled, Spanish teachers Alissa Lepp and Amy Haire are planning a June 2023 trip to Costa Rica. The eight-day trip will include a chocolate and coffee tour, waterfall viewing, whitewater rafting, a volcano visit and snorkeling. A $3,255 cost per student will cover flights, hotels, three daily meals, transportation and activities. EF Educational Tours will lead the group with a tour director and local guides; the district has traveled with the organization before. All high school students can register for the tour at .
  • Heard an update from the district's music and band teachers, who reported "strong" and slowly-growing student numbers in their music programs, after some challenging times during the pandemic.
  • Moved the next board meeting to Jan. 19, 2022 at 5 p.m. in the high school media center.

  • Approved the school resource officer agreement between the district and the city of Perham beginning in January 2022. The officer is a part-time position with a flexible schedule for instruction and law enforcement school liaison services.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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