The Springs School District has received approval from the State Department of Education to allow the School Board to appoint the district’s superintendent to a full-time, three-year term.
At a School Board meeting Monday night, board members announced that they had received the waiver they requested to keep him on.
The board needed to get a four-month waiver to allow the superintendent, John “Jay” Finello, to act as superintendent this year and earn more than the maximum permitted by the Retirement and Social Security Law during the calendar year. According to the State Education Department, a school district must obtain a waiver for administrators if they are already retired from public employment in the state and collecting a pension, under age 65, and would earn more than $30,000 from public employment during the year in question.
According to Springs School Board president Liz Mendelman, Mr. Finello is turning 65 in 2015, so he will no longer be subject to the law at that time. But a waiver is required through the end of 2014.
“He’s been an invaluable asset to our school district and brings so much knowledge and understanding to the educational process and finance process that is so much appreciated,” Ms. Mendelman said. “We’re looking to make this school what we need to make it and give our kids the best education.”
The district had budgeted $238,000 to restore funding, including benefits, for a full-time superintendent for the 2014-15 school year starting July 1, Ms. Mendelman said. The budget included two months of compensation under Mr. Finello’s remaining contract, which expired on August 31, and 10 months of compensation and benefits for the full-time superintendent position.
The School Board asked consultant Carl Fraser to speak about where the school stands after the State Comptroller’s office released its audit, which said the district’s unrestricted fund balance was 15 percent of the 2013-14 budgeted appropriations, almost four times the limit of 4 percent set by state law.
Mr. Fraser said the district has already been working on whittling down that fund balance, which stood at $3.8 million in 2013, by establishing $2 million in a capital reserve fund with voter approval, and putting more than $1 million toward the 2014-15 budget.
State auditors had also asked that the School Board improve oversight of employees’ sick leave accrual balances. Auditors found that in 2013, 10 employees’ sick leave balances were overstated by a total of 139.25 days, with a value of $44,430.
Mr. Fraser is currently investigating the issue and said it seems the problem stems from when the district transitioned from one accounting system, Info-Matic, to another, AESOP.
“AESOP seems to be accumulating contractual time that is a little higher than what is exactly in the contracts,” he said. “Unlike Info-Matic, every teacher gets 12 sick days and three personal days. AESOP is recording it as 15 sick days and 3 personal days. It tends to overstate information.” He said he is looking at the software to see if he can reconcile the differences and come to a reasonable conclusion and come up with a corrective action plan, which must be sent to the comptroller’s office within 90 days.