Riverhead School District shares results of its external audit

The Riverhead Central School District has received high marks for the handling of its finances.

That piece of good news was delivered in an external auditor’s report to the Riverhead Board of Education Tuesday night.

Even amid a dreadful global pandemic, some positives have emerged for the school district, which is operating on a contingency budget. Presenting the results of a June 30, 2020, audit, Jill Sanders of Cullen & Danowski, LLP told the board that the school district’s financial condition “is good, it’s stable.”

The district’s incremental borrowing rate was less than 0.5%, “and that has to do with the strength of your financial condition, and that you’ve been able to maintain stability, and that’s what the lenders are basically looking for when they are issuing you your debt,” she said on Zoom.

Ironically, the closing of school doors from mid-March to the end of the 2019-20 school year because of the coronavirus onslaught helped the district in an odd sense.

Ms. Sanders said because of that, “the financial results are going to look a little bit different than what we had anticipated when we put the budget together. So, as to be expected, there had been savings on the budget because school was not in session. You didn’t have as much facility costs as you might typically have. Transportation costs were not what they would be. Even things such as extracurricular and scholastic expenses would not be what you would expect them to be because of the last three-plus months of which school was not really in session physically.”

As a result, she said, the district was able to restore some reserve funds and apply $3.5 million to this year’s $144.8 million budget.

A number of employees separated from the district during the past year at an approximate cost to the district of about $2.3 million, Ms. Sanders said, and budgetary savings restored the employee benefit accrued liability reserve. “That is a fairly large amount to pay out during one school year,” she said.

Ms. Sanders said she met with the district’s audit committee Sept. 16 for about two hours, going through documents in detail. She lauded the district for having a “very good, strong internal control structure in place. So this means there’s checks and balances over the various financial transactions ©”

District treasurer Nancy Raynor, in her report to the school board, said the district expects to receive $200,000 this year for providing transportation for other school districts. It has received $57,038 to date, she said, but cautioned that the anticipated balance of $142,961 may not be reached because of COVID-19.