Audit notes schools have little surplus


MILLSTONE – A draft audit report for the Board of Education cites that the district had a very low surplus at the end of its fiscal year in June.

According to the district’s auditor, Robert Allison, ofHutchins, Farrell,Meyer&Allison in Freehold, the $130,000 surplus is well below the maximum allowable surplus of $669,000.

At the Jan. 28 boardmeeting,Allison said that the state allows school districts to keep 2 percent of their expenditures in the surplus. Millstone’s $130,000 surplus is only 0.5 percent of its expenditures.

Allison said that last year, districts were permitted to keep 3 percent, and a few years ago, the state recommended keeping 6 percent in the surplus.

“In a district of this size, $130,000 is very low,” he said.

Allison said the district did have transportation expenditures that it did not expect to have, which were partially responsible for the low surplus.

He said that the district could carry over grantmoney for theNo Child Left BehindAct that it did not spend in 2006, but a formal request must be made. He said board minutes indicate that such a requestwasmade, but his firmhas been unable to find the paperwork.

Because of a changeover in the school district’s business office,when longtimeBusiness AdministratorBrianBoyle left inOctober and was replaced byBernardBiesiada in January, the auditors did not get some records they needed right away, according toAllison.

“Fixed assets need to be kept a little better,” Allison said.

Teacher and resident Irene Pearson asked if the district had $539,000 in transportation expenditures that caused the surplus to go so low. Biesiada said the low surplus is not just the result of the transportation expenditures, but also a result of events occurring over the past fewyears.He said that several years ago, some of the school district’s money was returned to residents to offset the tax rate.

Board PresidentMaryAnn Friedman said that two years ago, the school district gave back $500,000 to the residents for tax relief at the request of the township after the school budget failed.

Noting that the school district’s budget is now frozen, Pearson asked, “What’s the plan to increase the surplus?”

She said the public should be greatly concerned about the low surplus because the school district always has unanticipated expenditures.

Friedman said the school district is in a difficult situation. Because of state caps, the school district can only raise the budget by so much each year, she said.

Superintendent of Schools Mary Anne Donahue said that the district is looking into an energy conservation programand at ways to bring revenue to the district. She also said she has spoken to Upper Freehold Regional SchoolDistrict officials regardingmore shared services.