School district receives clean audit

The Whitehall Central School District has adequate internal controls over payroll, according to an audit released last week by the state Comptroller’s Office.

Auditors examined payroll reports, time sheets, claims forms and salary notices to determine if employees were paid according to their contracts.

“We found the district established adequate internal controls over payroll. District officials implemented specific procedures to ensure that individuals were paid at their approved salaries and wages and received only the benefits to which they were entitled. We also determined that the various control procedures that the district had established over the payroll process provided adequate supervision and oversight,” auditors concluded.

The audit, which was conducted in April, covered the period of July 1, 2011, to March 31, 2013.

Auditors randomly reviewed the payroll records of ten employees during that period, as well as a judgmental sample of the ten highest paid employees, and found that all employees received the payment and benefits to which they were entitled based on their contracts.

Auditors also found that all health insurance premium records and separation payments were calculated and distributed correctly.

District Superintendent James Watson told the Board of Education Monday he was pleased with the results.

“It’s nice to have a clean audit,” he said.

Education of Homeless Children

The Board of Education approved a federally-mandated policy related to the education of homeless children.

Under the policy, the district is required to identify all homeless students and ensure that there are no barriers to their enrollment in school.

The district must also designate a homeless liaison, which in Whitehall will be the high guidance counselor.

That liaison must ensure that the transportation of homeless students are met and must report each student’s name, grade level and nighttime residence to the state Education Department.

Any child identified as homeless is also eligible for the district’s free meals program and does not have to complete an application.

Every district in the state is required to institute a homeless children policy under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.

The law aims to ensure that homeless children have the same access to education and other resources and services as their peers.

Employee Restructuring

District officials restructured a number of positions following the resignation of Colleen Jennings, who had served as coordinator of special education services and recently accepted a similar position with the Granville Central School District.

The board elected to abolish that position, as well as the position of assistant principal and then appointed Gregg Chappell to the newly created CSE Director/Assistant Principal.

Chappell, who had served as assistant principal, was appointed to a three-year probationary appointment and will receive an additional $7,000 in salary.

The board also created a part-time Dean of Students position, which had been eliminated when Chappell was appointed to assistant principal last year.

Music teacher Chris Palmer was appointed to fill that position and will receive a stipend of $2,500.

Watson said some of Palmer’s teaching responsibilities will fall on Lauren Gailor who had previously been appointed as a part-time music teacher but will now be full time. She will receive a salary of $34,272.

Watson spoke fondly of Jennings, who was hired as a guidance counselor in 2003 and worked her way up to CSE coordinator.

“We certainly appreciate all her efforts,” Watson said.

The board also appointed Justin Culligan as the varsity track coach and Pam Putorti as varsity softball coach.

Search for new Superintendent

Watson said the board has selected a new superintendent and the candidate has accepted the offer, but the district is waiting until contract negotiations are finalized before announcing a formal decision.

“It’s our belief that we should get the contract done first,” he said. “The position has been offered and accepted.”

Attorneys for both the district and the candidate are working on the details of the contract and it could be finalized by next week.

Watson, who announced his retirement earlier this spring after nearly three decades as superintendent, plans to remain on the job through the end of October to help with the transition.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16.

 

 

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