School boards pick same auditors in a new way and save bucks

The CFOs of Evanston’s two school boards tried something new this year in selecting an auditor for their books and saved money in the process.

Evanston Township High School District 202 CFO William Stafford and Evanston/Skokie District 65 CFO Mary Brown met jointly with three auditing firms after sending out Requests for Proposal (RFPs) to 14 firms, holding out the possibility that one firm could capture the business of both districts.

As it turned out, each district elected to continue with their present auditors, but both districts managed to wring out some price concessions that reduced the fees for each.

District 65 was the big winner, cutting its costs from McGladdrey LLP by about 20 percent, Brown told a joint meeting of the two boards Monday night. But District 202 also cut its fee from Miller Cooper & Co. by some $2,000 a year.

Each CFO lauded their present auditor in making their selections and noted that they avoided additional costs and inconvenience that would have occurred had they changed auditors.

McGladdrey’s winning bid for District 65 for 2014 was $33,000, while Miller Cooper’s 2014 bid for District 202 was $38,000.

The District 202 audit is a bit more complicated, Stafford explained, because it operates on a modified accrual basis, which has a longer timetable and different timing constraints, while District 65 uses the cash basis of accounting.

Both methods are widely used by school districts, Stafford said, and the determination of which to use is essentially a matter of choice. Brown added that both firms are experienced with both accounting methods.

McGladdrey has been District 65’s auditor for seven years, while Miller Cooper has been doing the job for District 202 for six years, the CFOs said.

(Top: School district CFOs Brown and Stafford.)

Comments

Combine D65 & D202

Evanston taxpayers saved $10,250 with the improved coordination of D65 & D202. That's a step in the right direction. (D202 $2,000 & D65 $8,250). I'm sure there are other savings to be realized through better coordination and cooperation with combining the purchasing power of the 2 districts. Any and all opportunities should be pursued. 

However, the largest cost component for both D65 & D202 is their personnel, accounting for about 75% of their budgets. The only way to realize significant savings is by employing fewer people. In today's day and age, do we really need 2 CFO's and their staff? Do we really need 2 Heads of Human Resources and their staff? Do we really need 2 Heads of Technology and their staff? And do we really need 2 Superintendents and their staff? 

By combining districts, not only should we save money, but we should realize an improved educational experience for students, parents, and staff since everyone is part of one coordinated, well run, and efficient organization. Isn't that what Evanston deserves?

When pigs can fly

Mr. Paine, you are talking about eliminating some very good paying jobs with excellent, though underfunded, retirement plans. The two school districts will scream to the high heavens how this will mean an end to the excellent (?) education the two districts provide. The only way to get the districts combined is to have elected school board members who want to make this their primary goal. Are any of the current school board members of Districts 65 or 202 in favor of this consolidation?