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Clean audit inspires changes in S. Colonie

South Colonie Central School District officials say they have taken into consideration several recommendations made in state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's audit of the district.

Every recommendation they made we've acted on. The key piece here is that all the recommendations were procedural in nature, said Superintendent Michael Marcelle.

The audit covered the July 1, 2005, to Dec. 29, 2006, fiscal period. School officials were pleased to read that no fiscal mismanagement was identified in the audit and only clerical and logistical issues were identified as items that could be improved.

The recommendations included changes to claims processing, a recommendation to use a new internal auditor and backing up digital records, said Marcelle.

On one issue, the comptroller's Division of Local Government and School Accountability and the district have agreed to disagree, he said.

The audit is critical of South Colonie's use of BOCES auditors to conduct internal audits of the district. South Colonie is one of 17 school districts that use BOCES

auditors through inter-municipal agreements, said Marcelle. The issue that the comptroller had was with who is paying for the auditors, the district or BOCES, using state dollars. The comptroller's office wants the district to foot the bill, not BOCES, Marcelle said.

Other than the issue of internal auditor services, the comptroller's suggestions really have to do with the district's information technologies department, said Beverly Miller, assistant superintendent for management services.

"Because they (the auditors) are going by the letter of the book it's kind of like better business practices," Miller said.

Changes made include having a technician on hand when checks are cut to accounts payable. Before, one person had both blank checks and a separate disc containing authorizing signatures to fill out the checks. Now the same person fills out the check while another digitally signs the checks. The second change includes adding additional back up of digital files at the district. All of the changes cost the district nothing more than adding a few additional duties to existing staff, Miller said.

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