More concerns about InExperience of Supt. / CFO

Salah  Khelfaoui Sun Photo Bob Whitaker

Salah Khelfaoui
Sun Photo Bob Whitaker

I have harped that this Superintendent was to inexperienced to lead the Lowell School system with little to no experience in running a district this size and the fiscal kaos that he was a part of in Winchendon. He was hired out of political spite ! I’ve pointed out his arrogance shown with his comments about his bosses on the Lowell School Committee:

“The beauty of me in all of this is you can go ahead and fire me any time you want. I’m ready to retire, so I don’t really care about any of the politics.”

I’ve asked around the state to many different municipal officials about this book-keeping practice of changing expenditures and the only semi-reasonable excuse for showing less expenditures that I’ve seen is that possibly they were not keeping accurate financial records during the year regarding grants. A Municipal expert suggested the following:

If the school dept. wasn’t properly charging grants during the year, they may have moved expenses at the end of the year to do so ,it is certainly not a “best practice.”

Besides the expenditures differential my bigger concern is that little to no transfers are being presented to the School Committee and money is being spent without a vote in the publics view.

How do you issue almost a million dollars (supposedly) in PO’s in June without getting School Committee approval? Look at the May and June Agendas I see no vote to purchase technology.

How do you adjust grants if that is indeed what happened without explaining in detail to your bosses on the School Committee? Apparently if you have this attitude you can.

“The beauty of me in all of this is you can go ahead and fire me any time you want. I’m ready to retire, so I don’t really care about any of the politics.”

In addition to this Superintendent, his hand picked CFO has ZERO experience with Mass Municipal Financial Regulations or requirements. Had they had the experience that the last school committee that hired him felt he had or if his CFO had the required experience Why the need to send out this email below?

Especially since the Supt and CFO had already issued almost a million dollars in PO’s which I believe really contributed to the mess of a financial report that was submitted to the School Committee. It appears to me that the Supt / CFO spent what might have been seen in the past as “Free Cash” without any School Committee vote on it.

My other worry is the Mayor knew and approved of these purchases without the rest of the School Committee having a vote.

To prove my point further about the financial inexperience below is an email that Supt. Khelfaoui sent out statewide to fellow Superintendents, one of who from outside the Merrimack Valley was kind enough to provide me with a copy.

—–Original Message—–
From: Khelfaoui, Salah [mailto:skhelfaoui@lowell.k12.ma.us]
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 3:12 PM
To: Superintendents
Subject: [Supers] An Accounting Question

Would you please share information on how your district deals with purchases when a purchase order was placed before June 30, 2016 (FY2016) but the invoice is not received until sometimes in July 2017 (FY2017).

Are you able to charge the purchase to FY16?

Do you have to charge the purchase to FY17?

Thank you,

Salah

[LPSD Logo] Salah E. Khelfaoui, Ph.D. | Superintendent of Schools
Lowell Public Schools Central Administration Offices Bon Marché Building, 155 Merrimack Street – Lowell, MA 01852
Phone: 978.674.4324 | Email: skhelfaoui@lowell.k12.ma.us

_______________________________________________

The Supt or his CFO should know this answer and If a lowly blogger can find the answer within 20 minutes of looking, why does a supposed experienced Supt. need to send out an email when a call to DECE and the DOR can point you to Mass Law to find your answer followed up by two quick emails the verify your understanding?

As far has I can tell It has nothing to do with individual school systems and everything to do with Massachusetts General Laws. In a nutshell, my understanding from speaking with municipal financial experts is this is what happens:

A purchase order is issued when the goods and services are procured. If this happens before June 30, the budget is “encumbered” so that no one can spend this money again. When an invoice comes in and is paid, the purchase order is liquidated – the encumbrance is released and replaced with an actual expense. When the invoice is not received until after July 1, the purchase order “carries over” that encumbrance into the subsequent year. When the invoice is ultimately paid, the expense hits the “old” budget, not the one in the new year.

This only happens when the good or service is purchased in one year and paid in another.

The fact that the school dept. supposedly signed somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 in PO’s in June showed an urgency to spend money that might have one otherwise been returned to the General City budget and did so without School Committee approval at a public meeting.

I also find the date of the email questions from the Superintendent interesting since I hear many PO’ we’re already issued by then.

Will it take Councilor’s stepping in and instructing the City Auditor to provide a comprehensive report in a week or two before action is taken? or we get a clear explanation?

It is the city who will have to cover any overspending, but the arrogance of spending and making transfers without approval is to me more worrisome than the illogical July report.

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