School Board Approves Audit, Hires Business Consultant

Pierson Middle-High School in the spring of 2017. Christine Sampson photo

The Sag Harbor School Board on Tuesday held a special meeting to address its audit report, allowing the district to meet a state-mandated deadline following a weeklong absence by superintendent Katy Graves.

The board, during its November 5 meeting, had postponed approving the audit report — in which external analysts reviewed the district’s payroll, spending and accounting and other business practices — while Ms. Graves was out for health reasons.

On Tuesday, after Ms. Graves had had time to review the audit report, the board voted 5-0 to accept the audit but not the “management letter,” a document in which suggestions are made for how the district can improve what the auditors consider weaknesses. Board members Alex Kriegsman and Susan Lamontagne were absent.

The management letter, Ms. Graves said, needs to be updated because the district has already made changes the auditor was unaware of. The letter must be filed with the state by January 15, 2019, she said.

“I just wanted to share some of the fact-finding I’ve done,” she told the board. “It’s really hard on a district if you’ve gone back and done work, and it’s not noted.”

For instance, she said, the district had already retroactively filed forms to collect some state funding for special education, which the audit had previously identified as something the district had yet to do.

“There isn’t a dollar we’re not going to chase after if we can,” Ms. Graves said.

The board on Tuesday also appointed Thomas Primiano, its former assistant to business administrator Dr. Philip Kenter, as a consultant.

Mr. Primiano resigned in September, but the district has had difficulty finding a successor, Ms. Graves said.

“The person we were going to appoint let us know at the 11th hour they were accepting another position,” she said.

Mr. Primiano will temporarily work evenings and weekends at a rate of $72 per hour until the position is filled and potentially while a new assistant is being trained, Ms. Graves said.