The East Hampton School District’s finances are right on the money, according to a presentation given last week by the district’s external auditor, Toski, Schaefer & Co., an Albany-based accounting firm.
The firm offered an “unmodified opinion,” the highest level of third-party opinion available from an auditor, noting that in the areas analyzed, including finances in the special education department and in extra classroom activities, things are in tip-top shape.
“[It’s] exceptional news all the way down,” said Schaefer & Co. representative Joe Kehm at a School Board meeting on Wednesday, November 5.
Mr. Kehm said the audit looked specifically at the special education department because it is the department that receives the largest amount in federal funds across the three schools. “There were absolutely no issues there,” said Mr. Kehm.
As for the classroom activity audit, Mr. Kehm said the firm designs a special audit approach based on prior activity. In this instance, the main focus was on risk management.
“Districts have a lot of challenges,” he said. “We live in a tax cap environment, and it’s a balancing act with what you’re required to do and while acting in a prudent manner.”
Across the board, the district scored exceptionally well in its audit report, said Mr. Kehm, which made it possible to borrow $2.2 million in a tax anticipation note and pay only $14,000 in interest.
“This happens every year,” explained Business Administrator Isabel Madison of the tax anticipation notes.
“You have a financially strong district,” Mr. Kehm said, “which is why you can borrow [that much money] at $14,000.”
In addition to discussing its financial standing, the board also announced its plans to continue pressuring the Suffolk County Board of Elections to rearrange polling times and places so as to not coincide with school hours for safety reasons, said School Board President J.P. Foster at the meeting on Wednesday night.
The board sent another letter to the Board of Elections last week, asking it to reconsider the district’s original request to use other buildings as polling places. The board’s first request had been denied by the Board of Elections.
“Other places would be valid to hold these elections,” said Mr. Foster during the School Board meeting. “This isn’t the first time we’ve written, and I think it’s a valid request.”
The district also spoke with the Elections Board’s commissioner to express a statewide “growing concern” about opening school doors to the public while students are on the premises, and scheduled a time to speak again in January to review alternatives.
“If you wind up with a lockdown and there’s 30 people voting, they’re not going anywhere,” Mr. Foster said, explaining that it is a heightened security threat to have the public coming and going throughout the students’ school day, and that in an emergency the school would then become responsible for members of the public.
During the most recent election, school was not in session, because the district intentionally planned Superintendent’s Conference Day to take place on that day, but Mr. Foster said, for the sake of simplicity, finding an alternative place for polling would be in the district and its students’ best interest.