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Schools frequently receive funding from the government and engage in numerous transactions over a single fiscal year. From the business standpoint, a school must ensure that these monies are distributed appropriately and that each transaction is necessary according to the goals and objectives of the educational institution. It is a school auditor's responsibility to track a school's financial practices and history.
If a school is operating correctly, administrators (e.g., the school board treasurer) should keep invoices that indicate the expenditures of the school. The school auditor examines all these invoices and makes sure that they are accurate, as the invoice amount should match the figures indicated in the school's accounting ledger. The auditor also then compares the invoices to the contracts related to the invoices, if applicable, to make sure that the school didn't overpay and wasn't cheated.
A huge expense to schools is the compensation and benefits paid to employees. The school auditor checks the payroll records for discrepancies in amounts for salaries, employee attendance, insurance, sick leave and vacation. The school auditor also may need to look at the school's tax records for employees, since tax regulations impact the net amount of pay an employee receives from the school.
School auditors look at every transaction in the school's accounting records, including monies that come in through donations or local, state or federal programs. In essence, they treat these records like a checkbook and make sure the records are balanced. During this process, they may test the methods that the school accountant or treasurer has been using throughout the fiscal year. Once they do this, they review the balance sheet to find areas where the district could save money.
After the school auditor has reviewed and balanced the school's financial records, he prepares formal reports both for the school board and for the state. He presents these reports as requested and make recommendations on how to improve the school's financial status or streamline the school's accounting methods.
Throughout the fiscal year, the school auditor may serve the district as a financial counselor. She may answer questions that the school accountant or treasurer has or provide resources so that the district is able to maintain accurate financial records. Importantly, the auditor is not an attorney; if the school has legal questions regarding the school's finances for which the auditor does not have an immediate answer, the auditor thus may refer the school to an attorney who specializes in finance law.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.