BISMARCK – The North Dakota State Auditor’s office is saying the 21 areas of concern found in its audit at Williston Public Schools’ district 1 is a rare and high amount.
On February 1, the North Dakota State Auditor’s office found 21 total areas of concern on Williston Public Schools’ district 1, including $377 million in unsupported adjusted journal entries and no record of school board approval for nearly two million dollars in purchases. More information can be found in the state auditor’s news release.
“You’ll see at the top of the news release it says disclaimer of opinion,” said Emily Dalzell, communications director for the state auditor’s office. “That means that we didn’t have enough information where we couldn’t even say if everything was ok or if it wasn’t, because we don’t have documentation of that. That’s not good because we want to make sure that we can look at receipts and the documentation of processes.”
Dalzell said out of the 21 findings, there are a significant number that are very concerning. She added that 21 findings is rare, and the auditors typically see only a couple areas of concern.
“To see 21, that is alarming,” said Dalzell.
District 1 has now merged with district 8 and became district 7, with a recently elected superintendent, Dr. Richard Faidley. The district also has a new business manager.
“I have written a corrective action plan to make sure that none of those things happen in the future,” said Faidley. “I have written the plan, submitted the plan, and the state auditors have approved the plan. I’m looking forward to implementing the corrective action plan and correcting the issues that the auditor’s staff found from the past.”
“The great thing is the current superintendent has been extremely helpful and worked well with our office in helping to work towards addressing a plan to address these areas of concern,” said Dalzell. “While these are significant findings, and we never want to see 21 different findings, this current superintendent has been excellent in coming up with a performance improvement plan to help address some of the issues that are presented.
The audit reviewed the years 2020 and 2021 after more than the required 35% of the district’s qualified electors signed a petition for the audit to be conducted.
“We applaud the citizens of Williston for taking these efforts to look into these financial statements,” said Dalzell. “Clearly there were a lot of issues here.”