In the wake of the scandals that have rocked the Roslyn and William Floyd School Districts, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi announced more school districts that will be subjected to an audit, one of which is the Elmont School District. Superintendent of Schools for the Elmont School District Dr. Maria Palandra said the district welcomes the state's involvement as well as any recommendation that may come from the audit that will assist the district in its ongoing efforts to enhance its practices and, more importantly, uphold the public trust.
Elmont, Baldwin, Massapequa, East Islip, Riverhead and Sachem will be among the 15 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk Counties that will be undergoing an audit of administrative expenses, such as credit card usage, meals and travel, Hevesi announced.
"After receiving a number of requests from concerned parents and local officials, we made a determination to review the school districts where an audit would be most helpful. We have no knowledge that anyone in these districts has done anything inappropriate so no judgement should be passed on these schools until the audits are complete," Hevesi said. "It is my hope that these initiatives will improve school districts' operations, fix any problems and assure the public that its tax dollars are being spent appropriately."
Dr. Palandra is one superintendent who has taken action in light of the findings in Roslyn. On July 9, she sent a memo to the Elmont Board of Education, recommending the board of education explore the option of asking the district's auditors for a more extensive audit of the district's finances and an assessment of the transparency and appropriateness of the district's internal accounting procedures.
"It is my strong belief that additional steps for improvement in the financial management of the district should always be sought," Dr. Palandra stated in the memo.
At a special meeting of the board of education, held on July 12, the board voted unanimously on a motion to accept the superintendent's recommendation that the board consult with the district's independent auditing firm to explore the expansion of the financial review of the district's accounting and audit procedures.
Dr. Palandra notes that audited expenditures for the 2003-2004 school year show a healthy, positive fund balance of about $2 million.
There was also some concern on the part of a resident of the amount of money board members were spending to go to conferences. Dr. Palandra said board members expenses are miniscule, adding it's an average of $2,000 per year, per person.
Dr. Palandra welcomes anything that would reaffirm the public's trust in the district. "Let the state come in and let them look at it. Audits, in my opinion, should take place every so often. If there is something we should be adjusting, let the state tell us and we'll do it but nobody is taking money here," she said.