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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


State Comptroller DiNapoli Releases School Audits

April 4, 2018

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of Salamanca City School DistrictSaranac Lake Central School DistrictScience Academies of New York Charter Schools and the South Buffalo Charter School.

"In an era of limited resources and increased accountability, it's critical that schools make every dollar count," DiNapoli said. "By auditing school district and charter school finances and operations, my office continues to provide taxpayers the assurance that their money is being spent appropriately and effectively."

Salamanca City School District – Financial Management and Payroll (Chautauqua County)

The board and district officials have not effectively managed fund balance. Unrestricted fund balance increased from $9.5 million as of June 30, 2014 to $18.3 million as of June 30, 2016. Unrestricted fund balance was 62 percent of 2016-17 budgeted appropriations and exceeded the statutory limit by $17 million. The board and district officials also have not effectively managed four reserve funds with balances totaling approximately $4.1 million.

Saranac Lake Central School District – Financial Management and Extra-Classroom Activities (Franklin County)

District officials accumulated unrestricted fund balance of approximately $4.8 million or 15.6 percent of the 2017-18 budgeted appropriations and exceeded the statutory limit. Officials need to improve budgeting practices to more effectively manage fund balance. While officials appropriated fund balance annually from 2014-15 through 2016-17 to finance operations, these amounts were not used to finance operations because of overly conservative expenditure estimates. The board and district officials have not developed formal, written multiyear financial or capital plans.

Science Academies of New York Charter Schools – Purchase versus Lease of Buildings (Onondaga County)

Charter school officials did not analyze purchasing options before deciding to lease buildings. Auditors estimate the school could have achieved savings of nearly $3 million over the 15-year terms of the leases by purchasing and renovating the four buildings acquired during the audit period rather than leasing them.

South Buffalo Charter School – Employee Compensation (Erie County)

Employee compensation was not specified in the collective bargaining agreement or written employment contracts and not supported by written documentation. The former superintendent established employee compensation without adequate board oversight.

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