Schenectady County

Audit questions amount BOCES spent on lunches

A policy is being developed at the Capital Region BOCES following a state audit that questioned more
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A policy is being developed at the Capital Region BOCES following a state audit that questioned more than $5,000 in spending for lunches during meetings.

In the audit released Tuesday, the state comptroller’s office reported that Capital Region BOCES makes it a practice to provide meals and refreshments for various activities and events, including administrative meetings, employee training sessions and regularly scheduled board meetings.

A 10-member governing board is responsible for the general management and control of the BOCES financial and educational affairs, with the district superintendent serving as chief executive officer responsible for overseeing management, planning and program coordination.

The Capital Region Board of Cooperative Educational Services operates two campuses and provides services to 24 town school districts and the Albany City School District.

It had an $85.7 million budget during the 2006-07 fiscal year, according to the comptroller’s office.

The audit, covering July 2005 to February 2007, included a review of 29 claims for food and beverages totaling $55,675, and suggests $5,192 of that spending was for “questionable business purposes.”

In one instance, the BOCES paid a local deli $1,903 for lunch at an April 25, 2006, meeting on the comprehensive search for a new Student Information System. Another $1,894 was spent on lunches for another four meetings on the same topic, according to the audit.

“These meetings were part of a predefined scheduled process for the SIS search and did not appear to be business of an immediate nature or meetings that were essential at mealtime,” the auditors wrote.

Administrators at the Capital Region BOCES were in a daylong meeting Tuesday and could not be reached for comment, according to a secretary.

Capital Region BOCES board President Lynne Lenhardt on Tuesday said meals are provided for BOCES board meetings because many members work and do not have time to eat before heading off to a meeting.

Lenhardt said the regular meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. but committee meetings can start as early as 5 p.m. prior to the regular meeting.

“They could be driving from as far away as Sharon Springs. It’s a pretty large BOCES area, so often some refreshments are provided,” Lenhardt said.

“It certainly is not anything extravagant,” Lenhardt said.

Auditors analyzed food expenditures for the month of October 2005 and projected a year’s spending at that rate could reach $13,000 for bottled water and $49,000 for meals and refreshments.

But Lenhardt said she believes the October 2005 spending reviewed by auditors included supplies for the culinary arts program early in the school year, not just money spent on sandwiches and beverages for board members.

The audit also makes recommendations on other topics, including centralizing cellphone service and improving record keeping to protect electronic data, computers and other portable technology devices.

The BOCES board is expected to review a new policy governing spending on lunches in February, according to the audit.

The audit can be found on the state comptroller’s Web site at www.osc.state.ny.us.

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