State audit of Margaretville Central School finds financial controls lacking

By Julia Green
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced Wednesday the results of audits of a number of school districts, including Margaretville Central School.
“My office’s audits of school districts, charter schools and BOCES help schools improve their financial management practices,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “These audits are tools for schools to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide students with the best possible education.”
The audit, titled “Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Activities,” covered a period of time from July 1, 2005 through June 28, 2007.
In a letter to school district officials, the state comptroller’s office said, “This audit’s results and recommendations are resources for district officials to use in effectively managing operations and in meeting the expectations of their constituents.”
The report from the comptroller’s office cited a number of weaknesses in the Margaretville Central School district’s money management. According to the report, auditors found that, “the school board did not ensure that the duties related to the district’s cash receipts and disbursements were properly segregated. District officials did not ensure compliance with the district’s procurement policy. The district’s superintendent, as purchasing agent, approved purchases without first soliciting or ensuring that district staff solicited the required competition. Auditors found that, although the board had established policies and procedures defining the duties of the claims auditor, district officials did not properly monitor the claims auditor’s work. Additionally, district officials did not develop policies and procedures to ensure that cafeteria moneys were properly recorded, accounted for and deposited intact. The board did not establish internal control policies and procedures to sufficiently safeguard the district’s computerized data and other information technology resources. Lastly, auditors noted weaknesses in internal controls over the district’s process for classifying workers whom the district enrolls in the Employees Retirement System.”
“I would say that the auditor did a very good job of auditing and they identified some areas that the district needs to work on to improve,” said Margaretville Central School Superintendent John Riedl. “Ninety-nine percent of the issues they found we’ve corrected, and I think that as a result, the financial dealings at MCS will be even better.”
Riedl added that the one thing the school still needs to work on is a disaster recovery plan.
“We’ve instituted some changes, but an actual disaster recovery plan is not in place yet,” he said. “We’re working on it, but it’s not done yet.”
New York is under a commitment to audit all schools in the state within five years, and a number of area schools have already undergone the process. Andes Central School was one of the first.