Columbia School Board hears audit
The start of the 2022-23 school year was a positive talking point for the most recent Columbia School Board meeting, as was a positive auditor’s report that took up most of the Thursday night session.
The report was presented by Jim Schmersahl, partner and proprietor of Schorb & Schmersahl, LLC, a public accountant agency in Columbia.
Schmersahl spoke highly of his time with the school district during the first half of August, emphasizing the cooperation and compliance of district administration.
Schmersahl specifically pointed to the district’s debt payment as a point in its favor. Following the payment of significant expansion and construction in recent years, the district has been paying off that debt appropriately.
Schmersahl said that following full payment of that debt, the district would be able to further improve its financial situation or reduce the tax levy.
He also classified the school’s net cash flow as positive. Every fund other than the fire prevention and safety fund showed positive results, which he attributed to major improvements that came from that fund – specifically a recent architectural study.
Still another point in the district’s favor, according to Schmersahl, was the district’s faithful payments of pension plans.
“This is a very positive audit report,” Schmersahl said. “I should mention that we had complete cooperation of (Superintendent) Chris (Grode) and his staff.”
Also addressed at the start of the meeting was the district’s continued staffing needs.
Grode specifically cited the district’s need for multiple paraprofessionals, an additional school psychologist, a cook and a high school nurse.
“We are currently still in the process of moving people around and trying to make sure that all of the children’s needs are met,” he said.
Grode and Columbia Assistant Superintendent Alyssa Smith also discussed the start of the school year and the short but positive note the semester started on.
Smith discussed the hard work of the district’s custodial staff to get each of the schools in good condition for the start of the year as well as the positive experience that was opening day.
Grode mentioned the skill and teamwork of school staff directing students during the bus transfer, and Smith said the new additions to the staff had been wonderful during the school start.
“It’s been two days with the kids. I will say it’s been two amazing days,” Smith said. “And again, that just goes back to everything that people did over the summer to prepare and get ready for it, and just the incredible staff that we have here.”