CITIZENS AUDIT COMMITTEE
In response to financial irregularities within the school district in 2012, the School Board of Manatee County followed recommendations put forward by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) in April 2013 to establish and recruit a fully functional and independent audit committee and to outsource what was formerly a staff function -- internal auditing.
Appointed by School Board members, volunteers for the Audit Committee must have credentials appropriate to their oversight responsibilities; like a CPA designation or prior senior-level education management experience. The committee meets regularly and operates according to Florida Sunshine Standards, with other citizens and the media welcome to attend. All agendas, reports and proceedings are recorded and posted on the district website. The committee is advisory to the School Board, making observations and recommendations based on its review of the facts, action plans and financial reports.
The School Board approved a charter for the Audit Committee that follows best practice standards and keeps the committee independent of management and reporting directly to the School Board. The committee was recruited to develop a work plan, by collaborating with the External Auditor, the Internal Auditor, Florida’s Auditor General, to review all financial reporting functions, along with any special projects which arise. The School Board added the responsibility of oversight of the half-penny sales tax to this all volunteer citizens’ committee.
Since the Audit Committee was formed, the School District of Manatee County has produced three-straight balanced budgets, has met its fund-balance requirement for three years in a row and has had its financial ratings upgraded twice in the last three years, according to Fitch Ratings, Inc., one of the nation’s top credit ratings agencies.