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BH-BL schools get good grade

If they gave school districts letter grades, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district just earned an A+ for its fiscal management and record keeping.

After weeks of analysis, the state Comptroller's Office announced that its auditors did not find any reportable weaknesses in the district's overall financial controls and records. This distinction places BH-BL in the top 5 percent of all New York school districts.

We celebrate that our focus on integrity, our clearly delineated procedures and our adherence to district policies and regulations have insured its clean audit, said Superintendent Jim Schultz. "This sends a clear message to taxpayers of the integrity and skill of those entrusted with their public funds."

State auditors reviewed records for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years, and concluded there was no reason for a return visit to scrutinize the records before these time periods.

"They way it works, they would have gone back further had they found any concerns," said BH-BL Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline St. Onge.

There are five schools in operation within the district, with approximately 3,500 students and 585 employees. The district's budgeted expenditures for the 2006-07 fiscal year were $47 million, which were funded primarily with state aid, real property taxes, and grants.

At an audit committee meeting with BH-BL Board of Education members, state associate examiner Scott Messineo stated that fewer than 5 percent of the school districts audited to date by the comptroller's office have received a report with no findings of any flaws.

The good grades come despite tougher rules governing how districts are managed. In 2004, after the discovery of massive fraud in a Long Island school district, the state comptroller's office initiated a five-point plan that included new fraud prevention and accountability rules for schools. Additionally, a 2005 law requires that all public school districts, BOCES and charter schools be audited by the comptroller's office within five years.

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