Mixed results in audit of Selma Schools

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Superintendent of Selma City Schools promises to address findings from a recent state audit.  Auditors found irregularities at one school in documenting attendance.  They also found the system had trouble keeping track of how many buildings it actually owns and how much they're worth.

"I'm a little appalled that we have not done a good a job as we should have, but I'm not blaming anyone else, I'm just going to take it and move forward with it," said Don Jefferson, the system's superintendent.

Auditors from the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts found the system overstated the value of the land and buildings it owns by millions of dollars.

In its accounting, auditors found, the system included some buildings, like Selma High School, for which it didn't possess the deed at the time of the audit.  The high school's deed has since been turned over to the school system.  Jefferson said solving the questions of ownership of other buildings in the system will take time.

"Say if the school is 100 years old, and we've got to go through how many times the deed has changed hands," Jefferson said.  "Who owned it, whether the Selma City school board, or whether it was the city of Selma.  And all of that takes time and it's pretty expensive as well."

Auditors also found significant differences in the attendance reports sent to the state, and the teacher attendance registers at Payne Elementary School.  The 20-day attendance report is a key factor in determining state funding for school systems.

"We're taking extra steps this year," Jefferson said.  "That's why we're going up to October 3rd to make sure our attendance is correct."

Jefferson said the system had actually improved its accounting practices since a 2009 audit found 38 discrepancies in accounting.  That audit occurred before Jefferson took over the system.

"Once those measures were cleared up, and those procedures put in place, you didn't have that problem anymore," he said.

The audit covered the 2010 fiscal year.

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