Schenectady School Board responds to critical state audit (with document)

Schenectady school employees will have to document the reason for working overtime as part of change

Schenectady school employees will have to document the reason for working overtime as part of changes approved in response to a state Comptroller’s Office audit.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli faulted the district in an audit released in November for poor oversight of financial matters, including allowing former facilities director Steven Raucci to collect more than $50,000 in undocumented overtime.

View action plan

To view the school district’s corrective action plan, click HERE.

Raucci made a total of $129,364 in 2008, even though his base salary was $79,000. District officials said he was the energy management program monitor and sometimes had to work nights and weekends to turn off appliances and check power use — contributing to his overtime.

DiNapoli said that Raucci’s time sheets did not state the overtime hours allocated to each responsibility, and the district did not have additional supporting documents detailing the duties he performed during those hours.

Raucci retired from the district a year ago shortly after his arrest. He is currently on trial on a 26-count indictment for allegedly planting explosive devices to get back at his enemies.

The district had 90 days to file a corrective action plan, detailing how it will deal with the financial oversight problems. On Monday, the Board of Education unanimously approved the plan with no discussion as part of the consent agenda.

In a four-page letter, the district outlined the steps it is taking in response to the audit’s nine recommendations:

District officials denied any wrongdoing in the paying of salaries. “Employees were paid according to the time sheets that were submitted and the board was not aware of any inappropriate amounts or discrepancies.”

The response says the biweekly overtime report form submitted by an employee’s supervisor will be modified by Sept. 1 to contain the reason for coverage or overtime, the description of work completed and the employee’s signature attesting to actual work performed. The district will also implement an electronic work-order system.

DiNapoli also said the district did not certify payroll — resulting in $2,300 in incorrect payments; did not get the required number of bids for purchase orders; and did not hire an internal auditor in a timely manner.

The letter said that a new employee benefits manager was appointed in July with the responsibility for payroll oversight.

Also, the business office is reviewing any payroll processing or calculation errors, and the human resources office is reviewing the payments paid to retiring and departing employees. This will be completed by the end of June.

School officials were also criticized in the audit for the so-called “separation payments” made to retiring employees, stating the retirement incentive should have been calculated based on percentage of their base salaries without factoring in longevity payments, stipends and pay differential for working second shift. The audit said the district paid more than $26,000 in separation payments than it should have.

District officials said that when they negotiate the union contracts, they will discuss the comptroller’s concerns. Also, senior business office personnel will review separation payment calculations by April 1. In addition, the board said it will make sure it enforces the current board policy requiring the district treasurer to maintain proper records and files of all checks and approved payment of bills and salaries.

DiNapoli had also criticized the district for not limiting employees’ access to the financial software system.

The board has charged the chief technology officer with making sure only those who need to have access to the system have it.

Board President Maxine Brisport said the district has met the requirements in this matter.

“I’m confident that the district has done a good job in addressing the areas of difficulty, and I believe the response was well done,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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