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November 17, 2010

 

DiNapoli: Tonawanda School District Failed to Collect More Than $70,000 For Non-Resident Students



The Tonawanda City School District did not properly identify all non-resident students receiving educational services and, as a result, failed to bill approximately $74,700 for seven foster children and two children attending a nonpublic school, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“School districts track their students for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to make sure local taxpayers don’t foot the bill for non-resident students,” DiNapoli said.  “The Tonawanda City School District didn’t track these students, and taxpayers lost out. Fortunately, the district has started to improve its processes and intends to recoup any money due.  In tough economic times, when every dime counts, school districts have to protect local taxpayers.”

The audit reviewed the tuition billing process for non-resident students for the period July 1, 2006 to June 15, 2010.  DiNapoli’s audit noted that no one was specifically assigned the task of tracking non-resident students for the purpose of seeking tuition reimbursements. Consequently, the district did not seek reimbursements for all non-resident children who received educational services during the audit period. To receive reimbursements, district officials must bill the district of origin for all foster children, and non-resident children, who attend a nonpublic school and receive special education services at the district.

DiNapoli recommended district officials:
  • Develop procedures to ensure that non-resident students are properly identified and that accurate bills and state aid claims are prepared and submitted in a timely manner;
  • Bill other districts for services provided in past years to non-resident students;
  • Contact SED to determine if there is any limitation regarding the extent to which previous years can be billed; and
  • Follow the procedures and calculate education costs based upon the methods identified in the Reimbursement for Non-resident Pupils guide.

The district generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations, and has already taken corrective action to improve its processes, including the development of a new form that will be added to the registration process. This form will ensure that all necessary information for foster children is collected at the time of registration. In addition, an individual has been assigned to identify non-resident students and provide this information to the business office on an annual basis. District officials indicated that they intend to bill approximately $70,000 for six foster children and two children who previously attended a nonpublic school located within district boundaries.

For a copy of this report, Click Here.

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