2019 NY State Comptroller Claims Auditing

Click here to read the full report (PDF).

Report Highlights

Audit Objective

Determine whether the Board of Education (Board) adequately audited claims before payment and ensured that each was approved, for appropriate purposes and adequately supported.

Key Findings

We found no evidence that the Board, as a whole, performed a thorough audit of claims that not only ensured that claims were adequately supported, that the correct quantities were received and prices charged and that the goods/services purchased were actual and necessary, but also ensured that the procurements and claims adhered to all District policies and procedures.

Key Recommendations

  • Enforce the adopted purchasing policy, procedures and regulation.
  • Require the Business Manager/Treasurer to submit claims packets to the Board, together with the warrant.
  • Perform a thorough audit of each claim before approving the claims for payment.

District officials disagreed with certain aspects of our findings and recommendations, but indicated they planned
to implement some of our recommendations. Appendix B includes our comments on issues raised in the District’s
response letter.

2019-2020 Proposed Budget

Dear Wainscott School District Taxpayer:

Your Board of Trustees is proposing a budget for 2019-2020 of $3,324,651, representing an $8,626 or a .26 % decrease from last year’s budget. The Board is also proposing an 18.51 % increase in our tax levy and a corresponding increase in our tax rate from $141.42 to $167.62 per thousand assessed valuation in East Hampton and $8.20 to $9.72 per thousand assessed valuation in Southampton. The proposed 18.5% ($416,374) increase in our tax levy will pierce the District’s 2.93% effective statutory Tax Cap by 15.60%. Despite these significant increases, Wainscott’s school tax rate will remain the lowest of the East End Schools by a wide margin.

The Board fully recognizes the magnitude of the proposed increase and asks that you consider the following facts and circumstances that have bought our unique District to this juncture. We also caution you a further tax levy increase is likely for the 2020-2021 budget.

You will recall that over the last seven years the District has been working toward “right sizing” our annual budget and reducing our unrestricted fund balance to a more realistic level closer to legally mandated maximums. The Board has successfully achieved both these goals. Including its proposed 2019-2020 budget, the Board has reduced the amount of its annual budget in seven of the last eight years while expanding and increasing our program and student services in response to the changing needs of our students attending our highly acclaimed K-3 educational program in our Schoolhouse. During that period, we have also reduced our unrestricted fund balance by $2,250,000 by giving it back to our taxpayers through reduced tax levies in each of the past seven years. As we stated in our last two budget messages, our reliance on our unrestricted fund balance to decrease your tax payments was not sustainable and as a result this year’s tax levy increase is inevitable.

During this same time period, Wainscott has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of students residing in our district, particularly during the last two years. The number of students who attend the schoolhouse (K-3) or who are tuitioned out to East Hampton or Sag Harbor Schools (pre-K; 4-12) has increased a staggering 236% since the 2012-2013 school year ( 46 vs. 117). This has resulted in the two significant impacts. It has increased our student population in the Schoolhouse to 28 students which represents 116% of its capacity (there are already 32 K-3 students registered for next year which would increase our overcapacity to 133%). It has also increased our tuition costs (the largest line item in our annual budget) dramatically over that period in a cumulative amount far larger than this next year’s proposed tax levy increase. For example, our tuition payments have increased $365,000.00 over the last two years alone. To put these student increases in perspective, our neighbor the Sagaponack District has a slightly larger total population but only 38 total students residing in their District.
(Wainscott has 128 -including 11 private students not funded by our District).

These increases have brought our District to a crossroads which threatens not only our District’s long held mission of individualized instruction delivered to our students in our Schoolhouse’s open classroom format, but also the very existence of our Schoolhouse. You will be receiving our separate writing on this subject which we ask you to consider and act upon.

In the meantime, the Trustees invite you to participate in the budget vote and the District Election to be held on May 21, 2019 at our Schoolhouse. Your support is particularly requested this year since a sixty percent (60%) super majority vote is needed to pass the proposed 2019- 2020 budget as it exceeds our statutory Tax Cap.
As always, your Board of Trustees thanks you for your continued support and understanding.

Sincerely yours,
David E. Eagan, President
Kelly Anderson
William A. Babinski, Jr.

Click here to download PDF with complete letter from the Board and budget details

Message from the Superintendent / Testing

April 1, 2019

 

Dear Parents/Guardians:

 

The NYS English Language Arts (ELA) Assessments will be administered April 2°d, 3rd and 4th. The NYS Mathematics Assessment will be administered May 1-3. We encourage all students to participate in the NYSED assessment program. While no one data point can ever provide a complete picture of a student, the data produced from these assessments is helpful in our evaluation of the effectiveness of our programs and practices. It also helps us to measure the growth of our students.

 

We understand and recognize that in recent years some families have chosen not to participate in the NYSED assessment program. The Wainscott Common School District acknowledges and respects your decision regarding your student’s participation in the NYSED assessment program.

 

If you have questions regarding these assessments or any other New York State Education Department programs, we encourage you to refer to Engage New York, which can be found on the NYSED website, www.nysed.gov.

 

Please also feel free to contact my office directly with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

 

Deborah A. Haab

School Superintendent

2019 NY State Comptroller Audit

Click here to read the full report (PDF).

Report Highlights

Audit Objective

Determine whether the Board and District officials effectively managed general fund balances.

Key Findings

  • Unrestricted fund balance totaled approximately $2 million on June 30, 2018, or 58.6 percent of the ensuing year’s budgeted appropriations and exceeded the statutory limit by 54.6 to 73.4 percentage points from 2015-16 through 2017-18.
  • The District’s budgeting practices included appropriating fund balance not needed to fund operations and adopting budgets that overestimated appropriations by a total of more than $911,000 (11 percent) from 2015-16 through 2017-18.
  • District officials failed to take corrective action to our prior report that pointed out the excess accumulation of fund balance.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop a plan to reduce the amount of unrestricted fund balance to the legal limit.
  • Adopt realistic annual budgets based on historical or other known trends.

District officials disagreed with certain aspects of our findings and recommendations. Appendix B includes our comments on issues raised in the District’s response letter.

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