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Syosset BOE Discusses Auditing, Enrollment

Board Congratulates 2012 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

A familiar topic was broached once again during the Syosset Central School District Board of Education Meeting on Monday, Sept. 26 at South Woods Middle School- the salary of Superintendent Dr. Carole Hankin.

Steger’s question was one of three posed to the board as part of the public session, and the only one not answered in front of the assembled residents. This left the resident notably frustrated immediately following the meeting.

“Concerned tax payers should get answers,” Steger told the Syosset-Jericho Tribune immediately after the meeting.

However, the reason the resident’s question was not answered during public session is procedural policy; it is district policy that comments made during audience to the public must be “limited to those matters which are on the agenda.” According to a district representative, though ineligible for discussion at the meeting due to this policy, Steger’s question was answered during a post-meeting conversation with Board President Marc Herman.

“Dr. Hankin’s current compensation package is befitting of her many contributions to our district, and is consistent with superintendents of top performing districts on Long Island and Westchester County,” the board said in a statement. “It is also a matter of public record, evaluated on a yearly basis by the board of education as required by law.”

Enrollment and the composition of the districts audit committee were the topics of the other two questions posed. Total enrollment for the district has decreased from last September by 85 students. Berry Hill Elementary School saw the biggest drop, losing 30 students. South Woods Middle School saw the biggest increase, gaining 23.

In response to a question, Hankin relayed that 359 students are enrolled in kindergarten and 439 students are enrolled in first grade.

Resident Sharon Smith asked about the composition of the districts audit committee. The answer came during a new portion of the meeting called “Board Education,” designed to educate the public on “timely items.”

The district currently employs three auditing firms who “work to ensure that the district is in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.” D’Arcangelo & Company performs the annual external audit.

Quoting D’Arcangelo & Company, Herman said that Syosset has “the best controls and compliance of any district that they do business with, and that’s over 70 districts.”

R.S Abrams & Company is the district’s internal auditor.

“These auditors come into the district at various times throughout the year to evaluate internal controls,” Herman said. “They perform an annual risk assessment and also do an in-depth analysis of critical areas of operations.”

The third auditor is Deans Archer & Company. They visit the district on a weekly basis and review all payments made by the district.

“The district also has an audit committee comprised of all board of education members that receives and reviews all reports generated by various auditors,” Herman said. “Board of education members receive specific formal training on school district financial oversight, accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities. This is mandated by the state.”

Herman added that everything involving auditing is regulated by New York State.

The board also announced that the district has received a net interest rate on 0.267132 percent on its Tax Anticipation Notes. This is the money that districts rely on to “cover expenses until tax revenue is received from Nassau County.” The rate is the lowest that the district has ever received.  

On the testing front, the board reported that Syosset’s SAT scores have increased. While scores for the standardized tests have decreased in other areas, Syosset students continue to score well above state and national averages.

In that same vein, 11 Syosset High School students have been named semifinalists for the 2012 National Merit Scholarship. 16,000 semi-finalists were selected from an entrance pool that topped one million students. The semifinalists are determined by scores on the October 2010 PSAT.

Stephanie Blumenstock, Sida Chen, Sophie Chen, Daniel Chui, Zachary Hammer, Ashwin Kelkar, Alex Lombardi, Cindy Niu, Joan Wang, Melissa Yao, and Irvan Zhan were all introduced to the board by Syosset High School Principal Dr. Giovanni Durante.

“We are very proud of our students’ achievements,” Durante said.

The next Board of Education meeting will be held on Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. at South Woods Middle School.