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Brentwood schools told to return $177,000

A file photo of Brentwood High School.

A file photo of Brentwood High School. Photo Credit: Ed Betz, 2010

The Brentwood Union Free School District has been ordered to pay back nearly $177,000 in adult-education funding after a state audit showed the money was not properly accounted for.

District officials said Friday they already have taken steps to improve record-keeping and are in the process of reimbursing the state.

The audit, conducted by the Department of Education and completed March 23, examined records for the Employment Preparation Education Program from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

The program's participants must be 21 or older, without a high school diploma or equivalent. Also eligible are students who already have earned such a degree but test below a certain grade level.

The district received $1.4 million in funding for the program for the 2009-10 school year.

The state found the district overreported contact hours -- the amount of time students spent inside the classroom -- by "including hours that were undocumented, provided by volunteer teachers and provided to ineligible students."

Auditors, who based their determinations on a sampling of student files, urged Brentwood to keep better records.

The district has complied, district officials said. Records have been moved to a more secure facility and teachers have been advised to take better notes on student attendance.

Officials said they also have taken steps to provide instructors with all of the necessary training.

Superintendent Joseph Bond said in his written response to the audit that he hopes the changes will "prevent future disallowances and enable the district to receive full reimbursement for the program services."

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