State audit gives a thumbs up to Riverhead schools

An audit of the Riverhead Central School District found nothing wrong with the way it handles payroll, according to a report released Wednesday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The audit was designed solely to determine whether the district wasted any cash through its payroll processes. Auditors looked at data from July 2, 2008 to April 28, 2010.

“Based on that evaluation, we determined that controls appeared to be adequate and limited risk existed in most of  the financial areas we reviewed,” a comptroller’s report states. “District officials implemented specific procedures to ensure the individuals included on each payroll are bona fide district employees, are paid approved salaries and wages, and receive only those benefits to which they are entitled.”

The findings came as welcome news for district officials.

“We are extremely pleased that you have concluded that the district controls over payroll are appropriately designed and operate effectively to adequately safeguard district assets,” Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney wrote in a letter to the comptroller’s office, also included in the report.

To perform the audit, the state reviewed minutes from Riverhead school board meetings, district policies, payroll records and interviewed personnel.

The measure did not come amid any alleged wrongdoing within the schools, state officials said.

“My office’s audits of school districts and BOCES help schools improve their financial management practices,” Mr. DiNapoli said. “These audits are tools for schools to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide students with the best possible education.”

The comptrollers office in 2004 initiated a plan to audit every school district in the state by the end of 2010. The state did a partial audit of the Riverhead School District in 2005 at the suggestion of some residents.

The district also is audited annually by an independent CPA firm, Coughlin Fondotos, that it hires, and those audits are filed with the state,  officials said.

[email protected]

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.