Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (8th Senate District) announced that two bills he co-sponsored creating new, improved accountability measures for school district finances have been signed into law by Governor George Pataki.
Governor George Pataki and Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. sign new accountability measures for school districts into law at a Roslyn school on Friday, July 22.
"The vast majority of school districts conduct themselves in a responsible and legal manner. However, as we have seen in the Roslyn and William Floyd school districts, there is always a risk of impropriety. We owe it to our residents to ensure that their school taxes are being spent to educate children," said Fuschillo, a member of the State Senate's Education Committee. "By implementing these new measures, we will take a significant step toward ensuring that school districts make appropriate use of tax dollars."
The first new law is based on a five-point plan that was developed in consultation with the Office of the State Comptroller, the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Society for Certified Public Accountants, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, and the New York State Association of Business Officials.
The five point plan will:
- Enhance the effectiveness of external audits which all school districts are required to obtain every year;
- Require audit committees in school districts so that audit findings and other accountability issues receive adequate oversight;
- Require a competitive process for selecting auditors;
- Create an internal audit function within each school district's financial management team; and
- Require six hours of financial oversight training for all newly elected school board members.
The second new law requires every school district, BOCES and charter school in the state to be audited by the state comptroller in the next five years. Following this five-year period, the comptroller will establish a policy for auditing the schools throughout the state. The comptroller must also report the findings of the audits to the governor and the legislature.