Where has the Fiscal concern / accountability been? Part 3 of 3

“I’m not an easy person to work with — if you look into my background I don’t allow School Committees to interfere with my work,” he said.

This School Committee has suddenly taken an interest in the finances of the School district but where have they been for the past two years? I’ve shown the fiasco that has been the budget process for the last two years.

If this Committee was so “concerned” about getting the funding, why didn’t Jackie Doherty – Connie Martin or any other member follow up on this vote they all took and passed last September? Why hasn’t the candidate that lobbied for more funding asked the Supt. or current committee why they never followed up on this vote?

I posted this in January of 2017

I’ve pointed out repeatedly about the lack of fiscal reporting and managing of this Supt and CFO and how that is a huge concern to me.

I’m getting more and more concerned with the actions and inactions of this current School Committee in regard to the financial matters.

We know that this Supt and his Administration screwed up the Circuit Breaker Account resulting in the remaining funds being returned to the General Account of the City under state law.

Some may not know the School dept also lost over $500,000 in a grant to fund paraprofessionals when the state of Massachusetts didn’t fund it.

Over three months ago in September this School Committee voted on a motion to ask the City for the $527,642.000 to be transferred back to the schools to pay for these para’s.

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In the January 4th report from the CFO above, you can see that no change has been recorded in the Suspense Account of the School Committee since they budget passed in May despite the September vote.

We are in month 7 of a very tight fiscal year in both the City and School Budgets and we’ve already seen school accounts with negative balance reported at the January meeting.

So the questions I have are:

1) Why hasn’t the motion been acted on since it passed 6-0 with the Mayor abstaining ?

2) Why hasn’t a School Committee member filed a motion to ask about the status of this?

3) Why was it left off the Quarterly Report of unanswered motions on Jan. 4th?

On top of that remember the transfer they approved without “supposedly” knowing they were doing it and the work it took to undo?

The multiple transfer fiasco’s associated with that transaction where last June the Supt charged $80,000 of his salary, $40K of the CFO’s salary and $30K of the HR Directors Salary to the to food service account so he could cut PO’s for what he decided was Computer / Technology needs without clearly explaining to the School Committee what he was doing?

Then the need to fix those transfers and then fix the fix so that the City could file end of year reports with DESE and put the School Dept. Budget back in line:

The following transfer is needed to correct an expenditure transfer that was approved at the August 17th School Committee meeting. The expenditure transfer below replaces the one approved earlier.

We will need two motions. One to undo the transfer made on August 17th referred to as expenditure transfer 1. The second motion needed is to approve the one shown below. The attachment provides the detail account numbers.

There is a transfer request on this week’s School Committee agenda that would reduce the $80,000 the Supt. charged of his salary to food service, reduce the $40K charge of the CFO’s salary to around $20K and the $30K he charged of the HR Directors Salary to $16K.

aug-tran-to-fix-june-tran

The Outside Auditors had this to say about that process. What did you hear from any school committee member or current candidate about this? or about the response from the Administration?

Auditor’s comments:

“The School Department transferred approximately $1.0 million from the Milk and Lunch revolving fund to account for indirect charges originally charged to the general fund budget. Normally any indirect charge transfers anticipated are incorporated as part of the formal budget process. This gives the City Council all necessary information to make an informed decision regarding the approval of appropriations. In this case, the $1.0 million transfer was not approved in the formal budget. This is significant because had the transfer been part of the budget the City Council may have reduced the School’s appropriation request by the amount of the anticipated indirect cost transfer. The Transfer was determined after year end and had the impact of increasing the School’s available appropriation by the $1.0 million charged to the Milk and Lunch revolving fund”.

Management Response:
For 2016-17 the indirect transfer amounts from the Milk and Lunch revolving fund was included as part of the approved budget.

Where was the concern expressed then? A little concern was shown back in Sept. when the Finance sub-committee made the following motion and vote yet here we are just about a month before the fiscal year ends and I have seen no written policy and procedure and no timeline when the School Committee can expect to get this information.

Another Motion passed but not followed through on!
School Committee Meeting Sept. 7th – Finance Sub-Committee Report

This Committee approved a 4 year contract for the Supt. that guarantees a 10% raise, The Assistant Superintendent For Curriculum position was budgeted in 2016/2017 for $139,584 and in the proposed 2017/2018 budget it is was approved for $150,000 That’s a 7.5% – 1 year salary increase of $10,416.00

In the 2016/2017 original budget the Asst. Supt. of Student Support Services budgeted salary was $130,244 but during the year this School Committee approved a raise and title of Deputy Supt. adjusting the salary to $145,000 and according to the 2017/2018 approved budget will increase to $150,000. That’s a $19,756 increase in two years.

The School Business Administrator who started in Feb of 2016 had a budgeted salary of $145,000 and in the proposed 2017/2018 budget is increasing to $150,000.

How many people in the private sector receive a $5,000 a year raise or a $10,416 a year raise or a $19,756 raise in two years? All voted and approved by the current School Committee. Where do the challengers stand on that?

We can’t forget that the Superintendent did not inform this school committee about the LSAA displeasure regarding parking and resulting in a charge of unfair labor practice which could cost the School department in awards by the labor board. Don’t forget two of these current school committee members were part of the committee that had to pay the UTL $800,000 for grievances.

So far the LSAA charge as resulted in this finding

The Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations has found probable cause to believe that the School Committee violated the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Law as the LSAA alleged in the Charge.

with a court date next April giving this committee a chance to settle.

Has it stands today, the School Dept. is receiving in the State Senate’s Ch. 70 projection funding and City’s contributions $162,930,324 or $4,485,096 more than last year.

While the City of Lowell is using $2,000,000 in reserves to run the operational budget, The City’s liabilities and deferred inflows of resources exceeded its assets and deferred outflows of resources by $29.4 million and still the city is trying to get funding to build or renovate the existing High School at a cost to the taxpayers of Lowell of approx. $130,000,000.

Where is the accountability to the Taxpayer from this School Committee and while I’ve been talking about this for the past two years, where has this Committee been and what have they been doing?

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