Salamanca School Board Addresses Deficiencies

SALAMANCA – Completion of the state-mandated district audit at the end of June unveiled some problems within the Salamanca School District.

Those problems have been addressed, and a corrective plan has been put in place and will soon be submitted to the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

After the June 30 audit was completed, deficiencies in three areas were found: student extra-classroom activity funds management, annual financial reporting, and unassigned and committed fund balance in the general fund levels.

In regard to the fund balance percentage being over the legal limit, the district has an ongoing plan for that as well, said Robert Breidenstein, district superintendent. The current amount in the unassigned and committed fund balance in the district’s general fund, as of June 30, was $4,053,000, or 16 percent of the 2013-14 budget. New York state mandates that the amount does not exceed 4 percent of the budget.

The plan to bring down the amount, however, according to Breidenstein, could take more than 20 years, if the district were to decrease the tax levy by $1 million each year, under the 2 percent tax cap law. Breidenstein said it is unacceptable that the district cannot have any larger than a 4 percent fund balance, given such things as teachers’ retirement increasing more than 150 percent over the last five years.

Auditors found issues in the methods and procedures the district uses to handle accounts in various fundraising activities. Some of these issues were in student ledgers not being properly kept for all clubs. The suggestion made of the district was to develop better procedures that keep students and advisers involved with the handling of funds and reconciliation of those funds at regular meetings with the district central treasurer.

Another suggestion made by the auditors was to close out accounts from clubs that were made up of students that had graduated the previous year. Those funds, according to the auditors, should be applied to a club that benefits the student body as a whole.

According to Breidenstein, an ongoing plan is in place to train the club advisers, as well as officers of the club, in proper handling of the ledgers, funds and reconciliation with the central treasurer.

Finally, requests have been made to have the auditor aid in drafting the annual financial statements. According to the auditors, the state of the business office necessitated the request. Recommendation for ongoing training for the business staff were made. Education in the office has grow with Karen S. Magara, district business executive, is close to finishing her master’s in business administration and will soon be entering the School District Business Leader Program.

The members of the board also approved the following appointments:

Lynn Lukaric, appointed to 0.3 full-time equivalent position of French teacher assigned to the Jr./Sr. High School, effective Nov. 4.

Wendy Donahue as a teacher assistant in Prospect Elementary School for a three-year probationary period

James Bucki to the grade 7-12 musical producer/director

Mark Lungerhausen to grade 7-12 musical accompanist

Nancy Vreeland returns as provisional attendance officer

Keith Windsor, a St. Bonaventure University student, to a 415-hour unpaid internship, with Suzanne John, guidance counselor.

Alicia Long, a Grand Canyon State University student, to an unpaid practicum, working with Lacey Philblad and Danielle Eaton, both social studies teachers.