Sag Harbor School Board Members Talk Audit Issues

The main entrance to Pierson Middle-High School.

An auditor with the firm Cullen and Danowski on Monday told the Sag Harbor School Board the district’s finances are sound, and that an audit of payroll, spending and accounting had found “no material weaknesses,” leading to an “unmodified opinion.” Later, a discussion between board members revealed a handful of issues uncovered during the audit that they feel need to be addressed.

“The segregation of duties is the biggest thing we need to work on in certain departments,” said board member Susan Schaefer, who chairs the audit committee.

Board member Susan Lamontagne raised an issue the audit had uncovered that actually works in the district’s favor: Sag Harbor had not been filing paperwork in recent years to seek reimbursement from New York State for some of its special education programming.

“That’s quite a bit of money,” Ms. Lamontagne said.

Susan Kinsella, who sits on the audit committee, said that with her “limited exposure inside the district, I’d say yes, there’s a couple of issues we thought were significant. We need to fix a few things in the business office, computer controls, et cetera.”

When it came time for the board to accept the auditor’s report, however, it found itself in a quandary.

Superintendent Katy Graves, who is out of the district until November 13 for “personal health issues,” according to school board president January Kerr, had not had a chance to review the audit report, and had sent a request to the board to table its approval until she has a chance to see it. However, tabling the report to the board’s next meeting, on December 3, would have meant the district would have missed the deadline of November 14 to officially file the paperwork with the state. The board ultimately voted to table the report and hold a special meeting with enough time to file the paperwork appropriately.