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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Audits of Local Governments and School Districts

Niagara Charter School – Student Enrollment and Billing (2013M-294)


Released: January 17, 2014 -- [read complete report - pdf]

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to examine the student enrollment and billing processes for the period July 1, 2012 through September 6, 2013.

Background

The Niagara Charter School, located in the Town of Wheatfield, Niagara County, is governed by a Board of Trustees that currently has 10 members, including one parent and two teacher representatives. The School’s operating expenses for the 2012-13 fiscal year were approximately $4.1 million.

Key Findings

  • Certain billings were not accurate and enrollment was not always adequately supported. In some instances, for students with less than full-time enrollment, School officials incorrectly calculated the full-time equivalents (FTEs), which resulted in over-billing school districts by more than $10,200. We also reviewed the 2012-13 fiscal year FTE report prepared by School officials and found that the School may be owed approximately $13,500 from one of the school districts. However, due to the incorrect calculations of FTEs identified in our testing, it is unclear whether this amount owed to the School is entirely accurate.
  • The School’s system of collecting and reporting student data could be improved.
  • Of the 22 students’ files sampled, the proof of residency on file for five students was either inaccurate or missing.

Key Recommendations

  • Properly bill districts based on each student’s period of enrollment and cease the practice of offsetting incoming and departing student FTEs. Follow SED guidelines for computing FTEs to ensure accurate billings to the school districts of residence.
  • Consider using only one software program to collect and report data for student billings.
  • Periodically verify the residence of students and require a student who moves to provide a new proof of residence, even if the residence is within the same school district, and ensure that proof of residence documentation is on file for all students.

Local Government and School Accountability Contact Information:

Phone: (518) 474-4037; Email: localgov@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability
110 State Street, 12th Floor; Albany, NY 12236