Petition audit of Williston Basin School District to continue later this summer

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 2:46 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - A petition-led audit of the Williston Public School District found many issues before they reorganized in 2021. Now the State Auditor’s Office will be looking into the finances of the newly formed district.

The dive into the Williston school finances continues as State Auditor Josh Gallion said he will be investigating the 2021-2022 school year, which was the first year of the Williston Basin School District 7. The belief from both the district and the auditor’s office is that they expect this one to be similar to the year prior.

In his previous investigation of the Williston Public School District 1 in the 2020-2021 school year, Gallion found 21 areas of concern. Some of those issues included having a budget out of compliance with state law and more than $6 million in debt left out on financial statements.

“I would not be surprised to see some of those issues carry forward before some of those corrective actions were put into place. It’s very possible that we might see some similar things that we saw in the other audit,” said Gallion.

Kent Anderson is the current business manager for District 7, hired eight months ago. He said the financials for those years were a mess, citing sloppy bookkeeping and lack of documentation.

“If auditors are making large adjustments at the end of the year to get cash to balance, which is what happened in District 1, that just flows through and causes problems the next year,” said Anderson.

Superintendent Richard Faidley was also hired after the 2021-2022 school year. He said he expects a similar number of violations for the petition audit, but assured the public that the newly added internal controls and corrective actions will lead to a significant improvement for the 2022-2023 school year audit.

“All of these items we have worked through the corrective action plan should be nonexistent in the 2022-2023 school year because of those internal controls,” said Faidley.

Anderson also denied a rumor that the district is under a “Credit freeze.” Anderson said they have been on a “Credit watch” due to the district not having posted a public audit of the 2021-2022 school year yet.

“It shows how dependent we are right now. We’re at the mercy of the state auditor’s office to a certain extent as far as their timetable of moving forward with the 2022 audit,” said Anderson.

In Gallion’s report, it states that there was no clear evidence or proof of illegal handling of money during the 2020-2021 audit. Anderson said he wasn’t able to find anything as well.