Trumbull schools report progress addressing audit points

The Long Hill school administration building on Main Street.

The Long Hill school administration building on Main Street.

File

TRUMBULL — The school system continues to make progress implementing more than 60 recommendations contained in an 80-page review of the school’s financial practices, according to business administrator Paul Hendrickson.

“Of the 68 recommendations in the report, 35 are already done, 16 are in progress,” he said. “And there are 15 we have not yet gotten to.”

The report covered the three-year period ending June 30, 2020. Hendrickson and Superintendent Martin Semmel have been on the job since September and were not employed by the school system during the period covered by the report.

Hendrickson also quibbled with auditor Joe Centofanti’s list of recommendations, pointing out that some of the 68 on the list overlapped or duplicated others.

“There are several duplicate recommendations, specifically related to transfers and purchases,” he said. When duplicates are removed, that brings the list down to around 55, “but that does not diminish the impact,” he said.

Some of the recommendations involved fixes as simple as purchasing a stamp and then stamping all invoices as “Paid” when the district submitted payment. Although Hendrickson said the district had made the change, it was not strictly necessary, he said.

Previously, the policy was to staple a copy of the payment check to the invoice and then file the two documents together.

“So there was no possibility of paying it twice,” he said.

The school’s business office staff has also met with the town’s purchasing manager to review purchasing procedures, a move in response to Centofanti’s finding that purchasing guidelines had sometimes not been followed.

The report also criticized the school system’s practice of making transfers between budget accounts without proper approvals.

Hendrickson said the district has committed to changing that practice, although he has not yet made any budget transfers this year, he said.

The district also has abandoned the practice of using bank loans to purchase technological upgrades, he said, and has begun listing debt payments separately in its monthly reports to make it easier for board members to review.

Finally, Hendrickson addressed Centofanti’s finding that the school system had spent tens of thousands of dollars licensing financial and payroll software designed to increase the business office’s efficiency that it never used.

“I had an hour-long conversation with an administrator for MUNIS (a financial management software), and we are currently awaiting staff training,” he said. “We have developed a plan to implement NOVAtime (staff management and payroll software). We have another call tomorrow and our goal is to have it operational starting with the new fiscal year July 1.”

deng@trumbulltimes.com