Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PENDLETON — The Starpoint Board of Education will determine how to use the $5 million a state audit says the district over-budgeted, according to the corrective action plan to be submitted today.
Approved Monday by the school board, the corrective plan is a list of changes Starpoint will make in response to a May audit report issued by the state comptroller’s office. That corrective plan will be available to the public today as well.
The report, which looked at finances through the end of the 2010-11 school year, dinged Starpoint for over-budgeting certain liabilities by $1.6 million, overfunding certain reserves by $1.7 million and using approximately $1.7 million of its fund balance when it wasn’t needed. The report speculated Starpoint’s unexpended surplus funds would have been $6.7 million and therefore could have lowered property taxes.
In the audit report, the comptroller’s office made recommendations that Starpoint should develop more accurate budget estimates and see that finances are monitored closely. The corrective plan said Starpoint will also review all liabilities and balance sheets.
After explaining how Starpoint puts together a budget to the state, Jonathan Andrews, Starpoint’s director of administrative services, said the board will continue to be involved with the budget process and receive monthly reports.
“We have certainly described the process and the fact you as a board are involved in every facet of that,” Andrews said to board members.
The district has begun the process of creating the 2013-14 budget. In the coming months, board members will set up a budget meeting schedule, review goals and discuss budget topics such as transportation.
Once board members get to see a five-year projection and revenue, they will meet with the district’s external auditor and decide how to use the surplus funds, Andrews said.
The audit also said Starpoint was not transparent with its use of capital project funds. So, the corrective action plan states the Board of Education will take a more active role in overseeing a capital project, including receiving periodic reports on finances and work. The district will also provide more detailed information to voters on any project, the corrective plan said.
Like putting together a responsible budget, district officials said they disagreed with the audit.
”We feel as a district, we do that,” Andrews said. “We will go well above and beyond to make sure no one can ever say we didn’t put enough information out there.”
The last two recommendations made by the comptroller were Starpoint should create a policy concerning board approval of change orders and completely bid out any work. Board members approved such a policy earlier this year, which said any change order over $5,000 needs board approval. And the district will bid out any work, Andrews said.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.