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Missouri Auditors Now Call Rockwood Evaluation a 'Performance Audit'

Two representatives from the Missouri State Auditors' Office attended the Rockwood School District Board of Education meeting Thursday to introduce themselves and discuss initial parameters of their project about the district.

Other than switching the name of the previously deemed "compliance audit" to "performance audit," not many new details were revealed Thursday evening at the Board of Education meeting about the upcoming Missouri State Audit of the district.

For background, read previous Patch articles about the audit:

Missouri senior auditor Carl Zilch said the Rockwood project also is not a petition audit, and thus would be paid for from state funding, not by the Rockwood District. "We don't know the cost of this audit yet. We will start in-field work on Monday," he said. "We do know it will take several months and that the report won’t come out until next year."

Zilch described the process as including two exit conferences: one with the district's department heads to go over accuracy of gathered findings and one with Rockwood's board of education directors in a closed session.

He said the conferences initiate the process of prompting district representatives' responses, answers that also go into the auditors' final report.

He said they planned to concentrate on the school year just completed June 30. "However we can go back as far as we feel reasonable," said Zilch. "Concerns and information from the public and district employees will be considered."

Zilch said they will not give what's called in the industry an "opinion" on financial statements, and that they did not intend to duplicate work already done by the district's independent auditoring firm.

Rockwood board of director Keith Kinder asked about the difference between a compliance and performance audit. Zilch said compliance audits look strictly at laws and statutes, and whether they were followed. "A performance audit is about determining what you’re doing and if it can be better," he said.

Kinder also asked about a firmer prediction of the final report timing. Zilch said "next year meant sometime after January."

In addition, Kinder asked how the auditor's office "leaked information" about the audit to newspapers and individuals before informing district officials an audit was planned. "That’s not good," said Kinder.

Zilch's response was: "Somehow I know it got out."

Rockwood board of director Steve Smith said he was on the board the last time the district had a state audit. "The auditing team made a number of presentations, most of which we were glad to have. It’s not a matter of looking screwed up; it's about how do we perform our functions and do they have suggestions?"

"I think it's a very good thing this is happening to us. I look forward to the results," said Smith.

Rockwood board of director Steve Banton asked what type of criteria would be used in a performance audit, and specifically whether it could include student achievement data. Zilch said, "It could, but I doubt it. It's hard to say."

Rockwood board of education president Janet Strate expressed concern about whether the auditors would alert the district's new chief financial officer, , as questions arise, and not surprise him. 

Strate, a CPA herself, said it should be good to have a "new set of eyes looking at us objectively." She said district representatives always look at efficiencies and ask if there are better ways to be handling items. 

Rockwood board of education director Bill Brown confirmed that board members will not see the auditors again until that final conference in a closed board session.

"If there's anything we can do to make the auditing process more efficient, let us know," Matt Doell, Rockwood board of education vice president, told the two state auditors.

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