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Audit knocks Lynbrook schools on status of treasurer

The Lynbrook school district appointed an independent contractor as treasurer even though state law and regulations bar such a contractor from being a school officer, according to a recent audit by the state comptroller.

Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli also chided the district in the report for paying $119,000 in health insurance buyouts over a two-year period to employees who accepted individual coverage plus a payment in lieu of family coverage.

Lynbrook Superintendent Santo Barbarino said Thursday that auditors found "no major areas of concern" and "no one has found anything that is inappropriate or irregular."

"Those things we were doing were meant to save the taxpayers money, and they did accomplish that," Barbarino said. "We are making those changes that they have suggested."

The report said auditors "found weaknesses in the internal controls over cash receipts and disbursements that place district assets at risk." They recommended that any individual appointed as treasurer meet all qualifications of being a school officer and be hired by the district.

Barbarino said the district saved money by not placing the treasurer, Linda Gillespie, on the payroll, but if the state statute is not modified to allow that, the district may need to increase costs to comply.

The report also said the treasurer should maintain custody and security of a computer disk bearing her signature, which is used to sign district checks, the report said.

In a separate audit also released this week, auditors found the Babylon school district contracted with five professional service providers without soliciting requests for proposals. The five providers were paid a total of $432,904 during the July 1, 2007, to Oct. 31, 2008, audit period.

District officials also did not properly segregate the treasurer's cash duties and did not comply with state regulations regarding printing of duplicate pre-numbered receipts when collecting cash.

In a written response to the audit, Babylon board president Judy Anderson said the district is taking corrective action and will review its purchasing policy.

However, the response also noted that "there is no legal requirement under General Municipal Law to request RFPs when the services require specialized skill, training or expertise or the use of professional judgment or discretion" and that four of the five service providers that were identified had performed work related to special education.

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