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RISD gets highest opinion in financial audit

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The financial audit of the Roswell Independent School District for fiscal year 2019-20 was issued with an unmodified opinion, the highest opinion that can be given. The audit had only one finding pertaining to the improper disposal of artificial turf, which had no financial impact on the district, the independent auditor said.

The RISD school board voted Tuesday 5-0 to accept the audit after hearing the report from A.J. Bowers, a certified public accountant with Albuquerque-based accounting firm Carr, Riggs and Ingram.

The July 2019 disposal of used turf to the public from the Wool Bowl went against the policy of the New Mexico Public Education Department and was reported to the state as required.

“It’s not something that’s going to significantly affect the financial statements of the district. It still matters because it is a control and you’ve got that risk out there. I think you guys have taken immediate and appropriate action to deal with all of those,” Bowers said.

Chad Cole, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, reiterated the district’s responsibility to report such instances, also including the September 2019 cybersecurity attack against the district as an example.

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“When that is discovered, it has to be reported to the state auditor’s office. We really didn’t have a choice in that,” he said.

Cole said Carr, Riggs and Ingram provided training on proper procedures immediately after the turf disposal was reported.

“We appreciate them kind of walking us through how to get that right because that was a very tricky situation that kind of went against our own internal controls,” Cole said.

The audit also showed the district’s increase in revenues for that year and that revenue outpaced expenses by about $3 million. The district has been consistent over the last five years in revenue being higher than expenses, Bowers said.

That was bolstered in 2020 by an $18.3 million increase in State Equalization Guarantee funding and $5.5 million in Public School Capital Outlay matching funds.

“The money increased in the revenue side from $111 million in 2019 to $134 (million) in the current year,” Bowers said.

In other business Tuesday, the board unanimously approved funding applications for the state bilingual multicultural education program and Title III immigrant funding; the recommendations of Pioneer Bank for banking services, RBC Capital Markets for bond advisory services and Modrall Sperling for bond counsel services; and adoption of textbooks for English Language arts.

The board also nominated Gwendolyn Keller of Roswell High School for the New Mexico School Board Association Scholarship. Board members chose from three applicants, whose names and schools had been removed from the application forms board members reviewed. Superintendent Mike Gottlieb announced the name after board members made their selection.

“We have some strong applicants and many deserving students in our district and I know we would all like to have several more nominations submitted, but I do think it’s important we participate in opportunities like this because even if it’s one student, scholarships can make a big difference in their lives,” Board President Hope Morales said.

Keller’s scholarship application will be forwarded to NMSBA Region 6, where a committee will review the applicants from the region’s eight school districts. RISD board member Mona Kirk is president of NMSBA Region 6.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.