District Addresses Audit Findings
The audit is based on a study of finances for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years. Many of the administrators who served during the target time frame, including the superintendent and business administrator, are gone now. It will be up to new superintendent Dr. Steve Gallon III and Business Administrator/Board Secretary Gary Ottmann to make sure things are kept on an even keel as the state increases its scrutiny of the 31 Abbott districts.
Due to the volume of each report, Plaintalker did not attempt to see how Plainfield compared to other Abbott districts, but as Interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter once pointed out, the main thing is how the Plainfield district is doing. The corrective actions cover aspects of inventory, facilities management, purchasing/accounts payable, human resources/payroll, general operations/accounting, food services, transportation, technology and student activities. The chart includes audit observations, recommendations, the district's response, target dates and names or titles of those responsible for implementing improvements.
Every building principal will have to keep better track of expenses. Overall, the state appears to want proof that school costs are more closely aligned with instruction. It behooves taxpayers to back up this notion, because the state is demanding that Abbott district property owners pay more toward school costs. Plainfield, for the first time since 1992, saw an increase in the local school tax levy in April and will see more increases in the future. At the same time, state aid will flatten.
The audit recommendations range from the obvious to the arcane. Apparently just as some New Jersey cities keep dead people on the voter rolls, the district was found to have deceased employees on the payroll. The audit recommended that upon the death of an employee, the person should be deemed "inactive immediately."
On the other hand, a reference to "batch job procedures" went over this writer's head.
A long list of bills in the KPMG report includes quite a few expenditures for parties and celebrations, many of which were found to be "reasonable" by the auditors. But in years to come, as the ratio of local school taxes to state aid changes, spending choices will be felt in the pocketbook.