Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - 07:32 AMPPG NEWS today
Audit: Wilkinsburg schools had $1.8M deficit NARTELL BUSINESS MANAGER March 23, 2016 12:00 AM By Mary Niederberger / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette The long overdue 2014-15 audit of the Wilkinsburg School District paints a picture of a district with lax financial controls, including improper bank reconciliations, no checks and balances in payroll processing, and a lack of documentation for federal reports. The audit, presented at a school board meeting Tuesday, showed the district ended the 2014-15 school year with a deficit of $1.8 million, despite the fact that the board believed it had approved a balanced budget for that year. That total includes $880,766 from the 2014-15 school year and nearly $1 million from the 2013-14 school year. Auditor Betsy Krisher of the firm Maher Duessel said that although the board approved a balanced 2014-15 budget, the budget presented to the state showed a shortfall of $208,000 that was to be covered by the fund balance. But in reality there was no fund balance; instead the district had a $966,000 deficit. Questioned by board members, Ms. Krisher indicated it was former director of business affairs Philip Martell’s responsibility to submit the budget to the state. “So the same person who presented the balanced budget to the board submitted a different budget to the state?” said school director Josh Miller, who took office in December. Mr. Martell’s attorney, Charles LoPresti, said Mr. Martell didn’t present different budgets. “The budget issue is completely inaccurately stated. The Pennsylvania Department of Education would have seen it.” Other audit details include the fact that Mr. Martell was overpaid $8,000 by the district when he left in May 2015. The overpayment came through the routine payroll process overseen by the district’s human resources consultant, Ms. Krisher said. Mr. Martell now is superintendent of the Connellsville Area School District. Mr. LoPresti said the $8,000 was for a health care buyout. The auditors also noted that district credit card use increased from $69,600 in 2013-14 to $101,600 in 2014-15. Ms. Krisher said the district had no formal credit card policy in place and recommended one. The audit took several months longer than usual to complete because district officials said they discovered bank statements had not been reconciled when the auditors arrived in June. The three major findings in the audit were the failure to properly reconcile bank statements, the fact that just one person was responsible for processing payroll, and that the district did not provide proper documentation for the quarterly reports on how it spent its federal Title I funds. On the bank reconciliations, the audit said a monthly entry was made to force the bank reconciliation to agree with the district’s accounting software system “without investigating what caused the discrepancy.” At times the variance between the ledgers ranged from $2,000 to $3.7 million, Ms. Krisher said. In addition, cash balances were not properly reconciled for the fiscal year, which could have resulted in the potential for unrecorded receipts or disbursements. Auditors recommended that monthly bank statements be reconciled to the accounting software and any differences investigated and properly adjusted. As for payroll processing, the audit said the district should have someone independent of the payroll system reviewing the payroll each pay period before it is processed. Without that, the opportunity for pay rate changes, ghost employees and other irregularities is high, the report said. As part of this finding, auditors said district personnel files were disorganized and did not have certain documents requested by the auditors. As a result, they were unable to verify employee start dates and contract steps. The audit noted that in the prior year the information was available. Auditors said no district administrator was reviewing personnel files to make sure a consultant hired to organize them was performing its duties. Steve Toprani, attorney for Ramona Pope, the former human resources consultant, said Ms. Pope is considering potential claims against the district. Mr. Toprani said he could not comment on the findings without seeing the audit. On the federal reports, the audit said that the district provided no support information for the amounts of expenditures each quarter and that no final report was made for 2014-15. By the end of the school year, however, the district was able to identify the salaries, benefits and other expenditures charged to the federal Title I program and they were determined to be eligible. Among the $101,600 in credit card charges, the audit noted that $1,321 made by Mr. Martell had no accompanying receipts to explain the purchases. The majority of that was $1,239 in charges on Mr. Martell’s card to Golf Warehouse even though the district had no golf team. Mr. Martell, through his attorney, said the charges to Golf Warehouse were for non-golf sports equipment for the district. On its website, though, Golf Warehouse sells only golf equipment. The audit noted that the district had no inventory system for athletic equipment and recommended one be established. Mary Niederberger: email@example.com.
Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - 10:05 AMPO'd Citizen
So how are we to know if the Connellsville budget is accurate? According to this article, he turned in something completely different to the state. Who do we believe? Who do we trust? What guarantee do we have this won't happen here. I can't believe this guy is in charge.
Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - 11:33 AMHate to say...
That's what happens when you have elected officials that have no other qualifications to be in charge of millions of dollars and authority to hire decision makers than that they won a popularity contest!
You also know that they're the ones deleting the posts so they don't have to listen to the masses as they ready to confront them during the public comment sections at the next meeting about their ineptitude. Remember: There were 2 directors that voted not to hire him!
Demand that Armstrong Cable starts to carry the school board meetings! 724-628-5462
Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - 4:16 PMMy Huntch
Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - 5:19 PMHate to say...
If you truly believe that doing something for 20+ years usually "qualifies" you for a job, you're delusional. 20+ years breeds complacency, lack of originality, and forged relationships where you owe people.
Thu, Mar 24, 2016 - 9:17 PMCitizen
How did he get hired as Business Manager. Better yet, could someone explain to me How did he get moved up to Superintendent?????? It's obvious he knows nothing about accounting or finance, does he know anything about Education or Developing Ciricculum? How in the hell could the school board promote him when they know he is under investigation?? There are hundreds of qualified candidates for that job. Are they Morons???
Fri, Mar 25, 2016 - 1:27 PMAintstayin
I asked this question and my post got removed.
Thu, Mar 16, 2017 - 7:01 PMVoter
This is unbelievable.
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