In a new report, state auditors cite the Pinellas school district for 25 shortcomings, including a red flag for its controls over $402 million worth of investments.
The Florida Auditor General dubbed the latter a "material weakness," which is the most severe classification. It also found two "significant deficiencies" — one related to financial reporting and the other to bank account reconciliations.
By contrast, auditors cited five issues in a similar report for the Hillsborough district —all of them considered minor.
"There are some things that need to be improved, and we are certainly working to improve them," said Kevin Smith, the Pinellas district's director of accounting. "Some of them have already been corrected."
The regularly scheduled report released Thursday was the state's first financial and operational audit of Pinellas finances since 2006.
Among other findings, it says the district:
• Incurred costs of $1.8 million from capital outlay millage funds that were not allowed under state law. (The district said it has transferred the money back.)
• Transferred $6.1 million in student fees from the workforce development program to the general fund, contrary to state guidance.
• Did not have adequate procedures for the timely fingerprinting and background screening of employees who have direct contact with students.
In a written response, the district outlined a host of changes it has made or is making. It said two years ago, 10,636 employees needed to be fingerprinted by June 2009. Now, about 2,244 remain — and they should be processed by this spring.