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April 9, 2008

DiNapoli’s Office Completes School Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District, Montauk Union Free School District and Tully Central School District.

“My office’s audits of school districts, charter schools and BOCES help schools improve their financial management practices,” DiNapoli said. “These audits are tools for schools to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide students with the best possible education.”

Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational ServicesStudent Management Systems (Suffolk County)
The BOCES maintained two web-based student management systems through an outsourcing arrangement with two third-party service providers. Forty school districts, with a combined enrollment of approximately 143,000 students, used these systems. Contracts were in place between the BOCES and the third-party providers to define the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved. However, the contracts did not specifically define, nor were BOCES officials familiar with, the internal controls that were in place at the providers to protect sensitive/confidential data.

East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Onondaga and Madison counties)
The audit found that the treasurer did not have control over his facsimile signature and was not involved in the check-signing process. In addition, the effectiveness of the district’s claims audit process was diminished because the claims auditor did not review or sign the warrants authorizing payment of claims or compare the warrants with the audited and approved claims. Furthermore, the district did not segregate key payroll functions and user access rights to financial data in the accounting system were not adequately restricted.

Frankfort-Schuyler Central School District – Internal Controls Over Cash Disbursements (Herkimer County)
The audit identified internal control weaknesses in the district’s operations relating to the segregation of duties, check signing and accounting records that could lead to inappropriate or incorrect payments occurring and not being detected or corrected.

Montauk Union Free School District – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Activities (Suffolk County)
The district did not have an effective claims audit process. The claims auditor had significant accounting duties and was directly supervised by the superintendent. She was therefore not independent, and her appointment as the claims auditor did not comply with NYS Department of Education regulations. In addition, internal controls over the computerized financial system, cash disbursements and payroll processing were not appropriately designed.

Tully Central School District – Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Operations (Onondaga and Cortland counties)
The audit found the district paid $37,128 to a heavy equipment business owned by a board member. This constitutes a prohibited conflict of interest. In addition, from July 1, 2005 to November 30, 2006, the board did not perform a comprehensive audit of claims, board members did not meet their fiduciary responsibility to audit claims or appoint a claims auditor for that purpose until November 21, 2006. Furthermore, user rights in the district’s computerized financial system were not properly assigned. Finally, there were at least eight Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services personnel who had the ability to access district’s financial accounting systems and related servers using a common account.

Click on the above links for copies of the audits..

If you have any questions or would like a comment from the Comptroller’s office regarding any of the audits above, please call the Press Office at 518-474-4015.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s 834 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 400 school audits and approximately 200 audits are currently underway.



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