A monthslong audit by accounting firm Baker Tilly found nothing out of the ordinary in the use of stipends within the Milton School District over the last nine years.
Wendi Unger, who conducted the audit, said at Monday’s school board meeting that she found “nothing unusual or unexpected” in the district’s use of stipends.
The audit came after attorney Lori Lubinsky recommended the district conduct one. Earlier this year, Lubinsky investigated payments made to three district employees, including the former superintendent and former director of administrative operations, after school board member Brian Kvapil raised concerns about them. The board authorized the audit in April.
“Nothing came to my attention during the accumulation of that data that warranted any concern on my part,” Unger told the board. “In working with school districts throughout the state of Wisconsin, all of them have some form of a stipend pay as noted on your report.”
She said the district should consider more careful use of the word “stipend” to prevent future confusion over how funds are being used.
“The term ‘stipend’ is not necessarily an appropriate title for the categories that fell within the stipend category,” Unger said.
Unger also said the district could consolidate some of the payment types. Five of the district’s 19 stipend categories use the word “coach” and could possibly be merged to better clarify how the district spends money, she said.
From fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2019 to date, spending under each of the coaching categories ranged from $61,050.60 to $2.4 million, though stipends were not given under each category during every year that was audited. The specific reasons the stipends were paid were not the focus of the audit, Unger said.
School district attorney Shana Lewis said the district has “colloquially” been using the term stipend for different types of payments that aren’t called stipends in records.
Both Unger and Lewis said the district should look at changing how payments are classified. Changing the way staff and administrators refer to such expenditures wouldn’t require modifying policy or board action.
The procedural change would affect how payments are classified, whereas a policy change would alter the official operations of the district, Lewis said.