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September 10, 2008

 

DiNapoli: Lack of Monitoring Leads to Cash Errors at

North Tonawanda CSD

Inadequate financial controls at the North Tonawanda City School District caused the district not to detect $15,000 in discrepancies with its food service vendor and to overpay vendors an estimated $1,450 over five months, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“During these times when taxpayers are watching every dime in their budget, school district officials need to do the same,” DiNapoli said. “The North Tonawanda school district needs to verify that all payments to vendors are accurate. The district has started to take steps to do this.”

Auditors found that $15,000 in discrepancies between food sales deposits and recorded food sales went undetected for more than a year because the district did not reconcile the vendor’s monthly reports of collections with actual deposits made. In addition, auditors learned the district overpaid the cafeteria vendor by an estimated $1,450 because district officials did not reconcile vendor invoices with meal counts on cash register tapes.

The audit, which covers the period July 2006 to February 2008, also found controls over the district’s computers needed improvement. District computers did not require a user name or password to access the Internet and data stored on local hard drives. In addition, users were capable of installing unauthorized software on district-owned computers. This puts the district at risk for having its data inappropriately modified, misused or lost.

DiNapoli recommends that district officials:

  • use daily cash register tapes to substantiate the food service vendor’s billing information and recover any revenue due from, or overpayments made to, cafeteria vendors; and
  • ensure that sensitive and confidential data is properly secured and network access controlled by using user names and passwords.

District officials generally agreed with DiNapoli’s recommendations and indicated they have begun to take corrective action.

Click here to view 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 (BOCES) and charter schools by 2010. The State Comptroller’s office has completed 470 school audits and approximately 200 school audits are currently underway.

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