School board and commissioners to meet about audit report

The Ennis School Board and Madison County Commissioners will have at least one more joint meeting to discuss the audit of the school district’s books.

The audit, asked for by the commissioners and paid for by the school district, is complete and the auditors will present it to a joint meeting of the school board and commissioners next Monday, Oct. 29 at 5 p.m.

The audit is the only thing on the joint meetings agenda, however, the auditors have told school board members that recommendations based on the audit won’t be distributed until after the meeting, said school board chair Lisa Frye.

“Basically it’s just going to be a discussion about the report,” Frye said.

A special audit of the school district’s book has been discussed for more than three years. However, the county commissioners became more involved after Madison County deputy attorney Chris McConnell requested an opinion from Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock.

Central to McConnell’s request was the funding for the new school building in Ennis.

Bullock’s subsequent opinion on the matter stated the school district was wrong to use adult education and transportation funds on the new building.

Once Bullock issued his opinion, the county commissioners urged the school board to do a comprehensive audit of their finances, said Dave Schulz, Madison County Commissioner.

It was obvious the way the school district had moved funds around for the new school concerned people in the community as well as in the county attorney’s office, Schulz said. Though Bullock’s opinion pointed out the obvious flaws in how the new school was funded, an audit was important because it would open up all the books.

“Until you got into the books, we didn’t have the whole picture,” he said.

Ultimately, the goal the commissioners have had all along is to find a way to set the record straight and help the community and the school move forward together.

“My hope is that with the new administration, with a partially new board, with a new school year and new facility that what comes out of this does not any longer obstruct the good community relationships that Ennis and the school has,” Schulz said.

And though the audit is being kept private until the meeting, Frye did say that there aren’t any real surprises.

“We got the draft report and there’s no surprises,” she said. “It’s kind of what we thought.”


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