September 24, 2023

Audit reveals NCSD finances are in order

School board accepts audit for fiscal year 2018-19

A recent audit determined Newton schools’ finances scored high marks.

Mike Stanley, of the certified public accounting firm Hunt & Associates, P.C., presented the Newton Community School District Board of Education with a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) during its meeting Monday night at E.J.H. Beard Administration Center. He largely commended the school district for its smart spending.

As pointed out in an introductory letter from superintendent Bob Callaghan, the 126-page financial report covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The school district must conform to an audit every year.

Stanley noted the school district did receive the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for its CAFR in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

“That means you as a district, as government reporters, are in the top two percent … across the United States,” Stanley said. “So congratulations on achieving those certificates of excellence. That’s really a large compliment. So everyone can be patting each other on the back right now.”

Callaghan said the audit reflects the conditions that have enabled the school district “to strive for a favorable financial picture — even during a period of challenging low growth in state aid.” Iowa, he added, continues to fall short of fully funding the education formula for K-12 schools.

“In Newton, we will continued to allocate available resources to fulfill our mission and our commitment to students,” Callaghan said in the report.

The CAFR highlighted major initiatives accomplished by the Newton school district, such as its 10-year plan for facilities and a five-year plan for finances. It also noted future considerations.

Newton used General Obligation Bonds to finance the new middle school, which opened one year ago. Sales Tax Revenue Bonds were used to finance furniture and final costs associated with the new campus. Administrators anticipate more site work and finishing touches to be completed in spring 2020.

Also noted by the CAFR were future considerations for the school district. The 10-year facility plan anticipates student enrollment and tax base to increase. This may require additional district space,
particularly on the elementary level. NCSD may also have to redraw district boundaries.

Stanley pointed out to board members that the Newton school district’s potential solvency ratio — a calculation used to assess financial health, according to Iowa School Finance Information Services — was about 2.6 percent. The previous year’s solvency ratio was -0.27 percent.

“So, clearly, you as directors have understood the fact that you need to get the district back into top financial condition and you did just that,” Stanley said.

The reason for that increase? Stanley suggested there may be many reasons. One that he highlighted was increase in the school’s general fund balance, which was boosted by taxpayer dollars without needing to raise the tax levy itself.

“Overall I think that the basic financial statements are sitting in a comfortable position,” Stanley said.

The school board voted unanimously to accept the financial report.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or