School activity fund management issues persist despite AP audits, recommendations

Accounts payable audits for the 2009 fiscal year uncovered financial mismanagement of activity funds in many Staunton, Virginia, high schools, according to the Staunton News Leader. Despite efforts to rectify this, 2010 audits revealed six repeated areas of weakness.

One area found to be at fault was cash disbursement documentation at Robert E. Lee High School. Although finance director Charles Phibbs offered recommendations on how to correct shortcomings in this area, an AP audit turned up similar failings the following year.

Auditors also noted that the same school employees charged with handling cash also oversaw bank statement reconciliation. A lack of checks and balances within an organization can increase the potential for embezzlement and is therefore discouraged. Phibbs cited financial restrictions as an obstacle to eliminating the issue.

"The offices of the schools do not have sufficient staffing (and) there is insufficient budget to fund additional staff members at each school," he said at a recent meeting with school officials, as quoted by the news source.

Last month, former RELHS bookkeeper Lisa Michelle Harrison was arrested on two felony counts of embezzlement. She subsequently committed suicide. 

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