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Comptroller: State overpaid school services agency

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli addresses a

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli addresses a meeting of the New York Association of Towns on Feb. 17, 2014, in Manhattan. Credit: Charles Eckert

Officials from a Glen Cove-based contractor are disputing findings by the state comptroller that they "misused" $194,320 in public funds under a state contract to provide after-school activities.

Officials for SCO Family of Services said in a statement they had spent state money to deliver after-school and summer programs to hundreds of young people that were "consistent with our contract."

But State Education Department officials said they would follow recommendations from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office to recoup the money and better monitor contracts and after-school programs.

"Children who need help staying off the streets should not be shortchanged by contractors cutting corners and reaping the benefits of lax state oversight," DiNapoli said in a news release.

SCO officials said in the company's annual report that they provide 93 programs at 117 locations in New York City and Long Island that include education, foster care, and family and homeless services. SCO spent $227.9 million on its programs in its most recent fiscal year, ending June 30, according to its annual report.

In 2011, it provided services to 60,000 children, youth, families and adults, according to its mission statement on a tax filing.

"We have an absolute commitment to financial integrity and the strictest financial controls," SCO officials said in a statement. They said they would ask the education department to reconsider recovering the funds but that they would "re-pay any funds owed in their entirety if required to do so."

The audit looked at $634,544 of payments the education department made to SCO over 12 months in 2011 and 2012. The education department improperly reimbursed SCO for expenses that were not covered by the contracts because it lacked an effective monitoring system, the audit found.

Some of those expenses included $90,348 for staff salaries for services performed outside approved hours of operation; $29,360 for three instructors who worked under a different grant; and $10,226 for field trips for students not enrolled in the state program.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed budget would increase funding by $500,000 to SCO for its after-school programs.

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