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County school audits released

July 18, 2008
Accounting errors related to the billing of medical claims for the now disbanded Columbiana County Schools Health Care Benefits Consortium resulted in already settled findings for recovery in an audit released Thursday. The audit report issued by Auditor of State Mary Taylor showed that the Salem City school district reimbursed the Columbiana County Educational Service Center for $14,925 on April 8 this year and the Southern Local school district reimbursed the United Local school district for $11,576 on March 6 this year, both related to erroneous charges or credits by the health insurance consortium. The consortium provided health insurance coverage to several area school districts. According to the audit, a credit of $14,925 was issued to Salem’s medical claims account to correct a misclassified prescription drug claim posted to medical claims on March 31, 2004. The credit should have been posted to the medical claims account for the ESC because that’s where the original invoice was posted, the report said. Salem city schools Treasurer Jill Rowe said she received an e-mail from the fiscal administrator for the consortium, East Palestine schools treasurer Rick Ellis, regarding the accounting error and the need to reimburse the ESC. It was her understanding that “it was just an accounting error,” she said when contacted Thursday. The other finding for recovery stemmed from apparent posting errors made on Aug. 5, 2005 when invoices for medical claims were charged to the wrong school districts. The audit noted an invoice for $41,294 for medical claims for Southern Local schools was mistakenly charged to United Local schools and an invoice for $29,717 for United Local medical claims was mistakenly charged to Southern Local schools. The report said the Southern Local schools owed the difference of $11,576 to the United school district. Emily Frazee, deputy press secretary for the state Auditor’s Office, also said the findings from the audit covering July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2007 will be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office and the Ohio Attorney General. She acknowledged that the issues looked like accounting errors and everybody had made good on the findings. Ellis could not be reached for comment, with a message left for him at his East Palestine schools office. A copy of the complete audit can be seen on the state Auditor’s Web site at


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