GPC Receives Positive State Audit

Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
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Author: Atlanta Journal Constitution Janel Davis

Georgia Perimeter audit shows financial improvement

By Janel Davis - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A long-awaited state audit of Georgia Perimeter College’s fiscal 2013 finances revealed this week that the school has made considerable progress since it faced a $25 million budget shortfall two years ago.

The report was one piece of the college’s revival puzzle as school leaders worked to re-establish the institution and its reputation after the financial problems.

“The audit confirms that we have turned around our financial situation,” interim President Robert Watts said. “We ended the year in the black with a small reserve. We knew we had resolved these issues, but we didn’t have third-party verification.”

Watts called fiscal 2013 a “challenging but successful year” for the college.

“In 2012 there were seven audit findings, and the auditor confirms that we had cleaned all those up this past year in 2013. We think that is a significant achievement,” he said.

State auditors agreed with the school’s overall financial report for fiscal 2013. The audit cited only minor operational issues including delays in returning some federal financial aid funds for withdrawn students and lack of adequate oversight for some campus cashiers collecting, recording and depositing cash receipts.

The University System of Georgia, of which Georgia Perimeter is one unit, had no comment on the audit.

Monday’s audit was a sharp contrast to the September 2012 state review, which found that overspending and inattention by school officials, including the college’s president Anthony Tricoli, led to the multimillion-dollar shortfall. At that time, state audits and university system analysis showed that Georgia Perimeter overspending had been going on for about four years.

The financial mismanagement led to Tricoli’s resignation and resulted in 282 staff layoffs and a sanction from an accreditation agency.

An accreditation update is expected at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ meeting in June. Until then the school remains on a “warning” status.

Combined with a new remedial policy implemented by the university system, the public financial troubles contributed to an enrollment drop of more than 10 percent during the previous school year. The college that at its height reached an enrollment of almost 27,000 students, dropped to 21,123 students last fall.