Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another clean audit for college district

     EL CAJON – If the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District was an NFL franchise, its number crunchers would be celebrating its eighth consecutive perfect season.

    That’s not to say the financial picture for the two-college district in East County is rosy – far from it – but its public accounting of its balance sheet remains crystal clear.

    For the eighth consecutive year, the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District has received exemplary marks for state-mandated audits from the certified public accounting firm of Christy White Accountancy. The reports on the
five audits for fiscal year 2010-2011 were presented at a governing board meeting Tuesday.

    Independent auditors once again presented the governing board with reports reflecting “unqualified” – otherwise known as “clean” -- opinions for the district’s general audit; its alternative pension plan; Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges’ foundations; and the district’s auxiliary.

    The governing board is expected to receive financial and performance audits in January for its Proposition R construction fund, the $207 million local bond approved by voters in 2002.

    An “unqualified” opinion is the best type of report to be issued from an external auditor, indicating no deficiencies in internal control or compliance. A finding of a procedural error involving financial aid to two students was noted by auditors, but prompt action by the district to correct what was described as a computer glitch was noted and did not detract from their unqualified opinion of the district’s general audit.

    Governing Board President Bill Garrett said the board is always pleased to see such strong audits.

    “They verify the district’s ongoing history of meticulous management of public resources and provide independent proof that we have accurately accounted for the collection and expenditure of taxpayer monies,” he said.

    Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said clean audits are critical because they are used by financial institutions, government agencies and others for bond ratings, fundraising, or oversight purposes.

    “This unbroken record of clean audits reflects the conscientiousness of district and college staff,” she said. “Our district’s business department does an outstanding job of recordkeeping, with a well-organized tracking and reconciling of income and spending that helps the auditing process go smoothly. The public can be assured we are transparent in our handling of taxpayer dollars.”

    The audit report addressed the effects of state budget cuts on the 30,000-student district. Auditors noted that the district’s $179 million
2011-2012 budget approved in September included revenue reductions in anticipation of midyear budget cuts. The district learned this month that it would receive $6.3 million less in state funding, but no additional cuts are expected at the two colleges. 

    As noted in the audit report, the impacts of state budget cuts to the college district have been severe:

  • The elimination of 600 class sections this academic year on top of the 1,000 cut in the past two years.
  • About 2,300 students have been turned away at the two colleges because of the class section cuts.  
  • Students are facing another fee hike from the current $36 per unit to $46 next summer. They already saw fees climb $10 a unit last year.
     “The cost-cutting has been heartbreaking, particularly as it affects students,” Miles said. “However, these actions reflect the district’s commitment to prudent spending.” 

     The audits are available at www.gcccd.edu/district-business-services/default.html