TRUMBULL \u2014 The scope of the school system\u2019s operational review surprised even the person who conducted it. Joseph Centofanti, a partner with accounting firm PKF O\u2019Connor Davies, on Wednesday told a joint meeting of the Board of Finance and the town council\u2019s Education Committee that the information he presented in his report was limited by time, among other things. The review was commissioned by the town council in early 2020 following the discovery of a looming budget shortfall. \u201cThese things are difficult to do by RFP (request for proposal), so I have to bid based on zero information,\u201d Centofanti said. \u201cSo at some point it becomes, I could do a lot more work but I\u2019ve already spent 70 hours over my projection. I did what I could but there\u2019s certainly a lot more going on.\u201d Centofanti spent about two hours answering questions from members of both town panels. The questions covered a variety of topics, including which school officials were responsible for ensuring compliance with state statutes and town policy, potential legal liability and the source of funds that were being transferred between school system accounts without proper Board of Education oversight. \u201cNormally, it\u2019s the administration that would be responsible for any type of compliance,\u201d Centofanti said. \u201cFrom a monitoring perspective, it would be the Board of Ed, but those two positions (superintendent and business manager) would report to the Board of Ed.\u201d Town council member Lori Rosasco-Schwartz, R-3, questioned why former Superintendent Gary Cialfi and former business manager Sean O\u2019Keefe had not been interviewed as part of the review. \u201cThe administration seems to me to be responsible,\u201d she said. \u201cWere those folks contacted?\u201d Centofanti said he had not spoken to either. O\u2019Keefe resigned in December 2019 and Cialfi took personal leave\/early retirement in January 2020. \u201cMy experience is it\u2019s never a productive process once they\u2019re no longer employees,\u201d he said. Fellow council member Carl Massaro, R-3, followed up with another personnel question, asking whether Centofanti had spoken with current staff about TD Bank loans that had seemingly been used to lease computers, a possible violation of state statutes that give the town\u2019s governing body the right to incur debt. Centofanti answered that he had examined records provided by the purchasing director. \u201cI\u2019m not sure I understand the question. It\u2019s pretty black and white,\u201d he said. \u201cFollow the policy. The (former) purchaser didn\u2019t follow the policy.\u201d Also, the review covered the three years ending June 30 2020, Centofanti said. Most of the current administrative staff have only been in their roles since September. \u201cThe superintendent wasn\u2019t there at that point in time,\u201d he said. \u201cThe business manager that was there is no longer there, so the answer is no, I didn\u2019t talk to those people.\u201d He went on to clarify that \u201cI can clinically see if you followed policy or not. I don\u2019t need to ask.\u201d Republican board of finance member Elaine Hammers questioned Centofanti\u2019s conclusion that budget transfers had been made without school board approval. \u201cDid you review the finance committee meetings, which is where they would make the transfers?\u201d she asked. Centofanti replied he had not. \u201cThey don\u2019t approve the transfers, that\u2019s the Board of Ed,\u201d he said. The seeming cross examination by the GOP drew a response from First Selectman Vicki Tesoro, an ex-officio member of both boards. \u201cI think we know why we\u2019re here, it\u2019s to review this report and ask the auditor questions about the report itself,\u201d she said. \u201cI would hope our friends on the other side of the aisle would not try to discredit our auditor for the job he did and therefore to discredit the audit. That\u2019s not why we\u2019re here and I would find that actually horrendous if that were the case.\u201d Scwartz defended her line of questioning, stating she has 15 years experience working as an auditor. \u201cThe process typically is once audit findings are found they are vetted with the people in charge prior to being released,\u201d she said. That comment surprised council Chairman Dawn Cantafio, D-1. \u201cAre audits typically verified by those being audited?\u201d she asked. Centofanti said he would normally review recommendations with management. \u201cThat\u2019s part of an annual audit,\u201d he said. As far as internal control issues, there\u2019s not really a vetting process because that is what was observed.\u201d Martin Isaac, a finance board Democrat, was interested in learning whether there were any potential penalties for not following state statutes in budget transfers and borrowing. Centofanti answered that he had never seen the state investigate school board budget transfers or borrowing. \u201cEven though statutes don\u2019t allow it, it\u2019s somewhat a common practice,\u201d he said. Centofanti also answered questions on the 39 paraprofessionals who had apparently been hired outside the normal budget process. He told Education Committee Chairman Thomas Whitmoyer, U-2, that finding the exact source of the money that had funded the paras was difficult because the schools were not properly documenting budget transfers. \u201cIf this one (account) is over, there were others that were under, but there was no mapping,\u201d he said. \u201cThey overspent the lines and then at the end would have applied excess cost money (from the general fund). But in conducting his review, Centofanti said he found the current administration and school board to be proactive in taking action to correct some of the problems. \u201cA lot of these recommendations have been implemented, partially just because you have different people in there now,\u201d he said.