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Audit of Chatham schools finds problems

Aug 28, 2023 12:59 am

Raymond Pignone reports in Columbia-Greene Media that a state Comptroller’s audit released Aug. 24 says that the Chatham Central School District did not properly manage its fund balance and reserves and spent more from the fund balance than was needed. The audit covered from July 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2022 and said the Board and district officials annually appropriated more than $1.3 million of fund balance they did not need or use to finance operations. The Board and district officials overestimated appropriations, on average, by $3.2 million, or 9.9 percent. The audit also examined accounts for medical insurance, dental insurance, Social Security, BOCES services and out-of-state tuition. The report said, “The [School Business] Administrator said the five accounts are intentionally budgeted with ‘contingencies’ built in so that appropriated fund balance is not actually needed to fund operations, but intentionally overestimating appropriations for the purpose of not using appropriated fund balance — while purporting to plan to use fund balance to cover an operating deficit — is both misleading to voters and lacks transparency." Chatham schools Superintendent Salvatore DeAngelo said, “We have a strong reserve plan that the district needs to maintain fiscal stability through challenging economic times.... The plan was developed to maintain educational programs during economic downturns and decrease volatility in the annual tax levy.” Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com.

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