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Willmar wins financial reporting award

WILLMAR — The Willmar School District has won an award for its financial reporting for the ninth year in a row.

The Association of School Business Officials International presented its certificate of excellence to the school district for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2012, which included the 2011-12 school year.

School Board Chairman Nathan Streed announced the award at this week’s board meeting and praised Business and Finance Director Pam Harrington for her work on the report.

“This type of award really speaks to the financial accountability of the district and its transparency,” Harrington said in her office on Friday.

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, called the CAFR, is a report released in addition to the district’s annual audited financial statements. “It has information in a more user-friendly form,” she said.

The past nine years are available on the district’s website, www.willmar. Click on “Finance” and then on “Financial Statements.” The CAFR documents are listed below audit reports. The district started preparing the report when former Finance Director Bob Haines was with the district, and Harrington has continued the effort.

Not all districts prepare a CAFR, she said. In Minnesota 25 school districts received the certificate of excellence for their reports, and just a handful of the winners are rural districts.

“It is extra work, but it’s worth it, because I can reach more people,” Harrington said. “It’s great for people that don’t have a financial background.”

In addition to information included in the annual audit report, the CAFR looks at economic conditions, the district’s mission and goals and major initiatives in the district.

The report’s introductory letter, signed by Harrington and Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard, discusses student achievement and changes in academic programs in addition to budgetary issues. It has a statistical section that looks at financial trends and demographic and economic information.

The statistical section includes a list of the top ten employers and lists the square footage and acreage of each building the district owns. The number of district employees is listed, along with teachers’ average salaries. The report concludes with a list of the city’s insurance coverage.

“If you’re a smaller office, it’s hard to pull together a document like that, but we feel it’s important,” Harrington said. “It helps to keep everybody informed.”

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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