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August 6, 2009

Corning-Painted Post School District Improves Controls Over Medicaid Reimbursements, Credit Card and Cell Phone Use

Corning-Painted Post Area School District officials have improved their financial controls over their Medicaid reimbursements, and credit cards and cell phone use, and are reviewing their transportation needs as a result of an audit of the district that State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released today.

The audit found that although the district missed out on approximately $500,000 in Medicaid reimbursements and spent more than a half million dollars on professional services without the benefit of competition, officials have taken steps to remedy these shortcomings.

“School districts have to stretch every tax dollar they can, especially in times like these when every dime counts,” said DiNapoli. “School audits can serve as a tool to help officials improve efficiency and protect taxpayer dollars. The problems my auditors found are correctable, and in fact, as Superintendent Ginalski has indicated, the district has already used our audit to take steps to correct them. Taxpayers need to know that the district is keeping a close eye on the bottom line.

“District officials also need to prepare for pending changes in Medicaid reporting guidelines in order to claim the funding the district is entitled to and maximize revenue.”

DiNapoli said the State Education Department is developing the new Medicaid reporting guidelines. The audit covered the period July 2006 to September 2007.

“This administrative team and Board of Education are committed to transparency and our efforts in dealing with the specific findings in the report were swift and precise,” Michael Ginalski, Superintendent of the Corning-Painted Post Area School District, said. “We were gratified there was not theft, fraud or abuse identified in the audit process and the District was appreciative to work with the Comptroller’s staff throughout the audit, so immediate steps could be taken to address concerns. As a result, we were able to enact a number of corrective actions to improve internal controls and reduce risk.”

The audit found that the district:

  • Did not claim approximately $500,000 in Medicaid reimbursement to which it was entitled because personnel were not properly trained on how to process and file claims;
  • Paid $527,730 on consulting, legal and training services without using requests for proposals, making it likely the district paid too much for goods and services;
  • Paid $304,207 more than was allowed by approved contract extensions and applied for extensions of the original contracts from the State Education Department, without reviewing changing transportation needs;
  • Did not maintain a list of those using credit and procurement cards. Officials estimated that a total of five credit and 20 procurement cards were in use. However, auditors determined the district actually had seven credit cards and 143 procurement cards and charged $97,784; and
  • Did not specifically identify the authorized users of cell phones or whether phone calls were business-related. Auditors determined that 9,444 (36 percent) of the minutes charged during a one-month test period were potentially personal calls. When auditors requested district officials to locate 21 cell phones, they were unable to locate 11 of them.

DiNapoli recommended that the district:

  • Comply with all Medicaid regulations, update student eligibility, and train staff on claims filing;
    Award professional service contracts through a competitive process;
  • Make bus routes more efficient, bid transportation needs and pay operators in accordance with contracts;
  • Maintain a list of personnel using credit cards, and control their use; and
  • Assign cell phones only as necessary, and monitor and review their usage.

School officials generally agreed with the DiNapoli’s findings, and indicated they have taken or would take corrective action. Click here for a copy of the audit.

School District Accountability
In order to improve accountability of the state’s schools, DiNapoli’s office will audit all of New York’s school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 630 school audits and approximately 130 school audits are currently underway.


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