Board must watch funds

The chief responsibility of every school district is to make sure its students have the opportunity to receive the best education that can be provided.

However, along with that duty are many others. Of particular importance for administrators and school board members should be finances. No school district should risk an expensive mistake by failing to keep track of how funds are being used in the district.

It appears the Gloversville Enlarged School District, until recently, was taking that type of risk.

An audit released by the state comptroller’s office knocked the district’s Board of Education for failing to exercise adequate oversight for almost two years.

The audit – which covered July 1, 2011, to March 31, 2013 – said the district had no audit committee. Although the school board had been established as an audit committee in 2005, the audit said, the members did not perform the required duties.

The audit also stated the district has had no internal audit report since 2010-11 and the district appointed no internal auditor for the 2012-13 school year.

“As a result, the taxpayers do not have adequate assurance that risk is being effectively monitored and that internal-control weaknesses are identified and addressed,” the audit report said.

While school board President Richard Carlson said the board has started to address the recommendations in the comptroller’s report – including appointing an audit committee – we’ve heard similar statements before.

The comptroller’s office noted that in an audit issued in March 2008, it was discovered the school board had not appointed a claims auditor. Though district officials said they would budget for a part-time auditor in 2008-09, the comptroller’s office found during the recent audit that there still was no claims auditor.

The audit noted none of the 50 claims tested by the comptroller’s office – totaling $967,570 – had been audited.

In this situation, school board members and the district’s administrators are the public’s first line of defense against wasteful spending or fraud.

The Gloversville school district has enough problems to worry about, including a low graduation rate. The district wouldn’t want to have to deal with missing or misspent money on top of other problems.