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February 6, 2008

DiNapoli: Roosevelt SD Has Addressed Concerns
Close Budget Monitoring Must Continue

If current revenue and expenditure trends continue at Roosevelt Union Free School District, the district could have higher than anticipated revenues and lower than anticipated expenditures for FY 2007-08, according to the second quarterly report of the district’s finances released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli said district officials have addressed many of the concerns identified in his first quarter report, released in October 2007.

“When I visited Roosevelt late last year, the district had made great progress in just a few short months,” DiNapoli said. “Today, Roosevelt’s financial condition is even better. Our real-time audit is tracking daily expenditures, helping the district control costs and waste. The increased aid approved by the Governor and the Legislature will help the district pay old deficits and help keep the district out of the red in the future. All of this means that Roosevelt is straightening out its finances.

“Roosevelt has turned a new page toward fiscal solvency, but it’s still imperative that the district closely monitor its budgeted appropriations. A better financial outlook is no excuse to return to the past practices that put taxpayers’ money and students’ education at risk in the first place.”

Since June 2007, DiNapoli’s office has conducted real-time monitoring of the district’s finances to determine whether the district’s spending complied with its budgeted appropriations for FY 2007-08. The report released today, covering the second quarter of FY 2007-08, found the district’s projected revenues at June 30, 2008 could be $632,000 more than expected and the district’s expenses could be $1.1 million less than expected.

The majority of increased revenue will come from the district beginning to collect foster tuition from other school districts. From fiscal years 2002-03 to 2006-07, the district educated foster care students but failed to bill the responsible school districts where the students resided because the district did not maintain documentation necessary for reimbursement. The district has improved its record keeping and hired an individual to recoup the past-due reimbursements from other school districts. The remaining higher than anticipated revenues resulted from conservative revenue estimates in the adopted budget.

DiNapoli cautioned the district’s positive budget picture could change significantly if district officials do not maintain the same rate of spending or if they commit resources for purposes other than what is already included in the district’s budget. Unexpected costs could also jeopardize the potential for positive operating results.

DiNapoli’s report also found the school lunch fund currently projects an operating deficit of $201,000, which is in addition to last year’s deficit of $537,483.

The report recommends that district officials:

  • continue to closely monitor operations to ensure the district stays within budgeted expenditures;
  • closely monitor appropriations for utility and special education costs and take appropriate action if unexpected costs incur;
  • eliminate the school lunch fund deficit by transferring money from the general fund;
  • prepare an annual budget for the school lunch fund and present it to the board; and
    submit acceptable documentation when rebilling school districts for their foster tuition liability.

The district generally agreed with the audit’s findings. The district’s full response is included in the report.

To monitor Roosevelt Union Free School District in real-time, an auditor from the Comptroller’s office is on site reviewing daily expenses. In addition to monitoring the district’s budget, the Comptroller’s office is providing recommendations to help the district build a financial management infrastructure so it can prudently manage its own finances. This quarterly report is the second of several reports that will offer recommendations to the district on how to improve its fiscal practices and management.

Click here for a copy of the report.


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