DiNapoli: Roosevelt UFSD Ends First Quarter Financially Sound
But Bookkeeping Improvements Needed
While Roosevelt Union Free School District ended the first quarter of the 2008-09 school year generally within the limits of the district’s enacted budget, the district is not adequately encumbering funds to control spending for the rest of the school year, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli’s office is providing real-time fiscal monitoring of the school district to ensure the district controls spending and does not overspend its 2008-09 budget.
“Roosevelt’s spending was within its budgeted limits in the first quarter of the school year but the district needs to properly earmark funds for known expenses to help protect the district from overspending,” DiNapoli said. “Every dime counts and Roosevelt needs to be sure every dime spent is within its budgeted limits.”
At the end of the first quarter of the 2008-09 fiscal year, the district spent $10.5 million on personal and other than personal costs, which represents about 13 percent of the district’s total budget. However, the district did not encumber funds appropriately. By not encumbering funds, the district failed to commit budget appropriations for known expenses. Encumbering funds helps prevent overspending in individual budget line items and in the overall budget.
The audit found that while the district’s budget appropriates $29.9 million for personal service costs for the year, the district failed to appropriately encumber the funds. In some cases the district did not encumber any funds for known expenses and in other cases the district encumbered too much money for expenses. Additional budget transfers are needed to correct the errors and these transfers should be reported to the board.
Auditors also determined the district did not execute a letter of intent with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). The letter of intent estimates the cost of services BOCES provides to the district. While the district appropriated $4.8 million to BOCES in its budget, it failed to obtain a cost estimate from BOCES and to encumber BOCES funds, making it difficult to ascertain if the appropriated funds are sufficient.
The audit also noted the district:
- did not adequately encumber funds for debt obligations, transportation costs or fringe benefits;
- did not revise its estimated revenues and expenditures for its special aid fund that is funded by federal and state grants;
- did not appropriately earmark academic improvement grant money to ensure this money only is spent on its intended purposes; and
- under-reported its short-term and long-term liabilities for paying departing employees for their unused sick and vacation leave accruals to the State Comptroller’s office and the State Education Department by about $3 million.
DiNapoli recommended that district officials:
- ensure budget transfers are submitted to the board;
- encumber the cost of known commitments and obligations to prevent over-spending;
- submit a letter of intent to BOCES to estimate costs for the 2008-09 year;
- update records for grant programs to reflect current fiscal status; and
- accurately report the district’s current and long-term liabilities for departing employees’ leave accruals to the State Comptroller’s office and the State Education Department.
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 834 school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 500 school audits and approximately 200 school audits are currently underway.