CCSD Board of Education – Meeting – December 4, 2017

– 7:00. Let’s rock. – Okay. – Isn’t that a little small? – Good evening. Will you please stand for the pledge? – [Everyone In Unison] I
pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all. – Okay. Exits are in the back and
the front of the rooms, and at this point, I’ll
open up the meeting for any public comments, for any items on the agenda, or for any other concerns. Any public comments? Okay. Thank you. Internal Auditor Report. Harvey? Could you? – So tonight we have Sue Peters, from Cooper Arias, who is a CPA firm, and they are internal auditors. Tonight Sue is going
to present to the board the 15-16, as well as the
16-17 Internal Auditor Report. – Oh, yeah. – Is that, can you hear me now? – Uh, I wonder if we could
bring that down a little bit. – Here, I can get it. All right, come on. Here we go. – Okay. I just want to go over a little bit with the audit. You’re required, several years ago, they required you that you
have to have an external audit, a claims auditor, and
then the internal audit. You know, the external audit, that’s looking at your
financial statements, trying to see if an outside
user would be misled. The claims auditor, they have to look at every
invoice that goes out, they have to approve it before
you’re allowed to pay it. That’s saying that otherwise, you as a board would have to do that, so you assign somebody to do that. Then, the internal audit, and any district that
has over 1500 students must have the internal audit performed. So you’re required to do that once a year. The primary responsibility
is to assist you, as a board, to understand
the internal controls. So I just wanted to bring that up, because sometimes we
forget why we’re doing it. So we’re looking more in depth at the internal controls, than the external auditors would look. So we’re trying to, we, as our firm, we try to look at other things that they wouldn’t look at, because it’s taxpayers’ money, so if you have to do this audit, we want to make it the best for you. And you’re required to develop a risk assessment of
the district operations, and renew it every year, review it and update it, and then you have to look at an area. During a risk assessment, we do interviews, we come in, we send fraud questionnaires, which you know, you’ve received. We test the controls that
you’ve told us are in place, we review the minutes, we look at last year’s
financial statements, we look at the management
letters they’ve given you, we look at the comptroller
reports if there’s been any issue and we’ve looked at what happens in other districts, as well, because if it’s happening there, or something happens with you, we might use that in one of the districts, because you’re all the same. Everything creeps up sometime or another. We look at things like payroll, we test payroll, we
test cash disbursements, to make sure of the proper approvals, we look at the cash receipts, we look at transfers, to make sure that there’s approval, if there’s any outside transfers. We look at the bank reconciliations to make sure they’re being done, and being done timely, and we look at your credit cards, to make sure there’s proper approvals. Extra class room. That’s always a challenge
in every district we have, some more than others. Here’s it not that bad. You do have people that
are trying really hard, but there’s always gonna be problems, but you’ve really cleaned it
up in the last several years. So we try to, like I said, we go in and we look at, we don’t just do the
regular payroll tasks. We try every year to
change it up a little bit, just so we see, we might find something. For the 15-16 risk assessment, we were looking at the cash receipts, and we had found where
some of the receipts were held in the school
for more than a month, and that’s really not
something that should be done, and your district policy says that. It should be deposited within three days, so that was one of the
thing that we had found, and confirming purchase orders. There was a couple of incidences where it was purchased
before the PO was approved, which is not a good idea. Sometimes it has to
happen during emergencies, like if buildings and
grounds needs something, but in this case, there
was three incidences where it was not an emergency. That is very unusual. We don’t usually find that here, so those are the things that we’ve found, but in 2017, which is good, we did not find any incidences. That was tightened up, the cash receipts, we looked especially for those instances, and everything was deposited timely, as far as we could see. So the district got the
word out to the buildings, because what it was, it was being held in the buildings. They got it to the business office, so it could be deposited right away. So after we’d go through all that, we’d tell you the findings. That’s when we go through, and we look at your risk assessment, and we look at everything, the governance and planning, the accounting and reporting, and the revenue management, purchasing, facilities and equipment, student services, student related data, and we go through each section, and we say, is it low risk or high risk? And in the back of the report, it shows whether we thought it was low, moderate, or high, based on the findings and based on what we’ve found. And things like payroll is always gonna be high risk, because it’s the biggest
part of your budget. The things like attendance, that’s lower, because you have very good patrol. We actually looked at attendance
a little bit the one year, that’s lower, so it depends on, every district is different, in how your controls are set
up, and how we decide that. I don’t know, do you have
any questions on the updates? – I have a question. – Sure. – So when you assess risk, for example, on strategic planning, you identified strategic planning as low, what does that mean? – What is it, why is it low? – Yes, why is it low? – One of the things is when you
haven’t had any major issues in the last three to five years, that’s one of the things
that we would look at, we go through, we look a lot
more at the financial numbers than, you know, what would
affect you financially, and we found you didn’t have any problems in the last three to five years, so that’s how we were
able to assess that low. In most districts, they do
have strategic planning, is, we consider it low. So overall, we considered it low. – So we have all these
different categories, and on student performance,
you also rated it low. I didn’t quite understand. Student performance,
strategic planning, low, and are there suggestions to improve, or? – We have not looked at that. That could be a special
area you want us to look at, we could go into more
detail in those sections, if you wanted us to, but we have found that there hasn’t been any major problems during those times, and statistically, districts do not have a lot of problems with those. I mean, you might, some
districts have more with the students. Here, no. – So, excuse me, but what you’re doing is saying that our data, the reliability
of the data that we have is low, meaning that it’s accurate? – No, that, we don’t see that. – The risk, it’s low risk. – What you’re reporting, there’s not a lot of control problems. – Remember, also, this is,
Sue, correct me if I’m wrong, but obviously this is looking at procedures and policies, and how things go. It’s not looking at the data itself. – Right. – It’s saying, are we
capturing it properly? Is the procedures to make
sure we have data in place? – Thank you. – And there’s nothing from the state, you haven’t gotten any report saying that you haven’t filed the documentations that you need for those areas. – When you do your audit, are you also looking at trends, like accounting trends in terms of like a percentage, a variance report, from year to year or
from a period to period? Are you comparing it that way? – Not really, because we’re not looking
at the actual numbers, the financial statement numbers. That’s something the external
audit would look at more. We’re looking at your internal controls, and the policies that you have. – Sue, can I, just a
couple of questions while, it’s kind of one question, but
a couple of different items. So on the risk assessment, the items that are moderate and high, can you explain why? – Sure. Mostly, there’s three
right there together. The purchasing, accounts
payable, and payroll. You have a lot of expenses, that’s typical in a school district. Your payroll is most of your budget, so that makes it high. Your controls, I do believe they, you have good controls over your payroll. We have tested different areas. There’s always room for improvement, but you have a small business office, and there’s not a lot of
segregation of duties, so it’s hard to bring that
down to even a medium, because there’s only a couple
of people involved in that, and you can’t fix that
because you are a small, you’re a large district. You can’t afford to another
employee to fill that gap. As far as purchasing, that’s the same kind of thing. You have a lot of purchases, you have a large budget. You do have good controls. You have a claims auditor, you have purchasing, but there is a lot of money that’s going through the district, the materiality amount just
makes that higher, as well. – Well, you identified as an example that some purchases were made before the purchase order was issued. – Right. – I guess there’s a little informality in a small town like ours. – And sometimes that happens. If it gets delayed in the business office, a requisition is made, and then it takes time
to do the purchase order. – Yeah. – Is what happens sometimes. It shouldn’t, but it’s not
a perfect world, either. But we didn’t find, like I said, this time, we did not find any instances, so that made us happy with that. – It’s also interesting that note that was said before is true. The only person, I’m sorry, it’s in the report. The only person who has the ability to actually purchase a service is the servicing agent, and that’s, I have that role, but if somebody called up a vendor and bought something, and then put it in, if I wanted to, because for whatever reason, meaning it wasn’t appropriate, I could deny that, and that person, it’s
coming out of your pocket, or you gotta return the goods. I mean, so the point is, even though something
might come before it, it’s not the prescribed way, and as Sue indicated, there was only two instances. We do verify, even after the fact, that in fact, it was needed, it was appropriate, and it was the right price, so. – And your claims orderer definitely would question that as well. – Right. – So there would be documentation that the purchasing agent still would sign that approval after the fact, but, so all the approvals were there. It’s just that it should
have been ahead of time, and like I said, it’s not, not everything is a perfect world, and you know, sometimes
I think people think, oh, it’s going to be approved, and not that it’s right, they shouldn’t be doing that, but that’s what I found in the past. – So you found three in 15-16, and none in 16-17. – Yep, we didn’t find any in, yeah. That’s the other thing we do. If we find problems in last year, we’ll look at this year, so that’s, we keep doing,
going back and forth. But you have a strong
business office that cares. Everyone works very hard. – If I could also just add, I don’t mean to keep interrupting, I just want to give some of this as much background on this as possible. The other reason why payroll
and personnel is high is you have to remember, we don’t have an HR person. There’s three of us in
the district office, and in addition to what we normally do, we also handle all personnel. So it’s a high risk area, because it’s not a segregated area, as Sue said. – In a large, where if you had proper
segregation duties, the Human Resource person
would enter the employee, and only they would be
able to put the pay, there would be a different person that’d put in the payroll rate. Here’s it’s, again, that Human Resource and
Payroll have to work together, that just otherwise,
things wouldn’t get done, so in a perfect world,
you’d be able to do that, but in a smaller budget, you’re not able to, probably remain high. – I’m sorry we were late, my partner and I, we come from the city. Peter is still on the train, but I may have missed, did you go over all the
moderate categories, that you identified as moderate risks? For example, facilities and construction, and why would there be a moderate risk? – Moderate risk, because
that is, facilities, you have capital projects that
go on throughout the year, there’s a lot of reporting with that. You also have larger purchases that are being done through there, there is a procurement
that you have to follow, it’s, there’s a lot of money
that goes through there, it’s another dollar figure, and although the purchasing is, the purchasing agent does
see all those invoices before they go out, it’s still, you have a lot of reporting you have to report to the state ed, just an area, you’ve got
custodians that are out there, working around the clock, you can’t be there at every moment for every employee to be watching. It’s very difficult, so that makes that more moderate. – I just had a thought, when you’re talking about the 15-16, and no HR person, in 16-17, didn’t we have
a part time gentleman from from BOCES? – We did, but what you have to keep in mind is that I wouldn’t, the things that attribute
to the high risk area, are not things that he
was able to address. Remember, he was just part-time. He was helping us on a different front, and we had to pick what was
the highest priority for us, not necessarily what
spoke toward the risk. – Right. I mean, my point really was that we had him, we had
no findings in 16-17, and how much impact did he have on that? Which bodes for the future
of looking at an HR person. – Well, I mean, he probably took something off of your plate. – Oh, he took something off all of our plates. – Right. – Which benefited us. – Which led towards their oversight. – Right. Thank you. – Okay. – Okay, and then, for 15-16, we had looked at the
food service inventory, and what we were trying to see is how they were keeping
track of the inventory, making sure that everything was locked. We went to every building, we made sure that it was locked. When we got there, we had to ask for the keys, it was locked. They do monthly inventories, we’re making sure that we
took the last inventory that had been taken, and we went to every freezer, we spot checked to make sure that the amounts that
were reasonable for those, and we didn’t have any problems with that. The inventory sheets are
maintained for the whole year. We asked for those, and
they had to photocopy them. The only thing we were able to suggest was that if they would
put it in a computer, into a spreadsheet, then you could compare
to see how it goes on. That would also help for
them to know what they need, which, I know they know that, but it definitely would
make it easier for everyone. We looked at the approvals to make sure that what
they were purchasing had the proper approvals, and we really did not have any findings. Everything was secure
within the buildings, they are keeping inventory, and we were able to go through without having any problems, so it was good. Does anybody have questions on that one? – In the absence of an audit committee, ’cause we are now, the entire board has become the audit committee. – Right. – Is that correct? – Correct. – All right, in the absence
of an audit committee, how can you guide us? We have these different categories, difference in planning,
account and reporting, revenue and cash management, purchasing and expenditure, facilities, student services, and student-related data. – Excuse me for interrupting, but we’re going to be having that, we’re gonna have that discussion as soon as she finishes her presentation. – Oh, okay. Okay, very good. – Okay, so I’m gonna go
on to monitoring the last that we looked at. We looked at payroll, again, which is another, we’ve
gone through payroll, but we’ve looked at different things every time we’ve done payroll. This time we looked at employees, we tried to get every bargaining unit, and we were making sure that there was the
signed salary agreements, and it agreed. We looked back at the years, how long they were there, to make sure that the
steps looked reasonable, that they should be at that step. We were checking for fingerprint clearing, for anyone hired after 2001, and we were looking at
the teachers certificates to make sure that they were in the file. Salary agreements are tough, because employees have to return those, but we were able to get an original from the business office, if one wasn’t in the file, and it agreed. We checked the gross payroll, we were checking to make
sure the account codes were reasonable for what
they were being posted to. We verified that it had been certified, every payroll that we looked at, and then we went into
the health insurance. Health insurance was one
of the things we found the last several years, that some districts don’t
reconcile every month, and there’s thousands
and thousands of dollars that are being missed. Here, you have at the
beginning of the year, a spreadsheet that is prepared from who’s going to be, who signed up for the benefits, and it shows how much
the district will pay, how much they’re paying total, how much the employees will be paying, being deducted out of their account. It’s a very thorough
job that’s being done, and each month, every
bill is being reconciled. So you’re not, we’ve gone to districts where people have been on the bill for over a year. That’s not happening here, because you are reconciling, and that’s what we were looking, and that’s actually, we didn’t find any, so that was good. It doesn’t take a lot of
time to look at those things, and you, as a district, have people that are
looking at that every month, so that’s a good job. – Thank you. – You’re welcome. – Okay. Which brings us to the focus
of the 17-18 internal audit. Now that we are a committee of the whole, we have to come to some
kind of a conclusion as to what we would like them to look at during this school year, and I believe Harvey mentioned that you maybe have some
ideas to get us rolling. – One of the things that
we said with payroll, you know, we have done payroll, but different section would
be to make sure of longevity, things like longevity, the credit hours, and the base pay, that is all correct for employees. That’s one area that we could look at, because it is so much of your budget. If we’re looking at, we could even look just
at the teachers’ section, just to make sure that everything is being processed properly because you do have a relatively small Human Resource department and payroll. Things could get missed, that’s something that we could look at. I don’t know, did you
think of something else as you were going through? I know you were mentioning
some of those things. There’s so many things
that can be looked at. It’s good if you go
around to different areas, but payroll is a really large area. – Sue, can I ask you a question? – Mm-hmm. – Is one of the things that
your firm might look at is for employees that have
additional withholding taken out for an additional 401, – 401K. – Thank you. – Yeah, well, 401Ks and 401Bs. – Yeah, the last one always escapes me. So that, those, do you look at that to make sure that when it’s taken out, that it’s also not hanging
out someplace too long, and it goes to the accounts? – We do look at that, but not in that much detail. We’re looking at the actual balance to see what’s left over, that’s something that we could do, because actually, I just had a district that had that problem, because they had a lot of turnover. That’s one thing, you’re lucky, too. You don’t have a lot
of turnover right now, and that would something
that we could look at. – Okay. – Well, what kinds of
areas in other districts do you look at? – We have, this year was interesting. We have a lot of districts going back to extra classroom, but I really, I have
mixed feelings about that. It’s important, but the external auditor looks at it, we look at it when we’re there, that’s something if
you want us to look at, we could definitely look at that. Then we have had food service, we’ve looked at cash receipts, to see how it’s being collected, especially when some of the schools switched over to Point of Sale, to see how it was being rung up, making sure that we sat and watched how they were actually doing it, making sure they were
ringing up every kid, that’s an area we looked at. We’ve been, the Smart Schools Bond Act, which you haven’t spent
the money yet on that, something that we looked at to make sure we were doing, that’s really strict. Things that they have to do, it’s gonna be on the website, we looked at the compliance with that, of course we’ve done payroll, accounts payable, we’ve looked at things, just to make sure. It’s sometimes, some districts
have where they’re concerned, like maybe building and grounds, because it’s a large district, it is not great in the business office, that they might be spending, and not getting the proper approvals. I don’t know, we only
found a couple instances that one year, but if you know of something like that, I haven’t heard anything here, but that’s something we’ve
done for some districts. We’ve look at grants to see, we’ve done that a little here, even, so they have assets, to make sure they, what was being purchased
matched what the grants were. We just did tax collecting
in another district, to make sure that their
processes were proper, they were reporting everything the way they were supposed to, that’s something that could be done. Trying to think of some of the other ones. – Have you ever done a technology audit? – We have done, as far as making sure that everything was documented, and everything had an ID number on it, and that it was where
it was supposed to be. – But not necessarily a procedure audit? – We’ve gone through and tried
to see what they were doing, and we documented what they were, we don’t have the capabilities right now to do the technology. – Right. – We’d have to sub-contract
that with our tech guy, and he said he would be able to do that, but we’d have to plan that very well. – Okay. Well, maybe another
year, another year out. – Myself, I wish I had the technology to, – No, understood, that’s, okay. Members of the board, yes? – This list of some categories, the list of seven categories, is this a list that’s a guide that’s given by the
state, that’s required? – It is. That’s what they want, through. That kind of covers every single area that there is in a school district and I think what most
districts have being doing are the ones that are like payroll, because it’s hard to, strategic planning, to test that, it’s kind of
hard to test that, you know? – So let me ask you. If I were to ask, let’s say, I would want to take this responsibility to take a greater role
in this responsibility, would you be able to
provide like a guideline from the state that says, in all these different categories, these are the expectations? This is the list, this
is how it should be done? – I could go through and try to list out. – Is that written already? – There’s guidelines
that the districts have, there’s checklists and things
that every district has to go through and see
how they are complying with all these different areas. – So for example, when
you rated reliability of student performance data, that’s the last category on your list, and you rated that low, there is a list of student data that you reviewed? – We don’t review the actual data, no. – So then how did you get, how did you — – There has not been any reports showing that there’s been any problems. – Raphael, it’s not the
data itself that’s low. It’s the fact that, are
we reporting the data, whatever the data is? – I’m just trying to understand what does this mean? When you say that there’s low risk, then that means that all
the data was gathered, that it was submitted on time. – Well, we don’t know, just like this wasn’t a fraud audit, so we don’t look at
every single transaction, we wouldn’t be able to do that in the time period that we’re
able to do this in either. If that’s something that
you’d like us to look at, we could develop — – But shouldn’t you, then, if you didn’t look at it, shouldn’t you say then,
I didn’t look at it? Instead of saying low? – We’re assessing the
controls over the district, and we didn’t find any, looking at through the minutes, looking through the
reports from the state, the comptroller, there was nothing, so — – I would just feel more comfortable, as a board, that if you’ve represented that there’s a low risk, and now you’re telling me that you didn’t look at it, then what you should have said — – No, I’m sorry. She’s not looking at the data. She’s looking at did we
follow the procedures outlined by the state to report our data? And we did. – Right. – But then you didn’t look — – At the procedures. – At the procedures. – Of us reporting data, and a lot of that is data that’s getting reported
directly to the state, or to BOCES, to the rig. And do we do that, and yes we do. – You do. You would have notices all over the place if you didn’t do that. – Yeah, the data cops
would come after us, yes. – I’m just trying, the reason I’m putting an emphasis on data is because I’ve been asking for data, and I have not received any data, so if you’ve seen data, I would like to know
where you got the data. – She hasn’t seen data. – She hasn’t seen, again, Raphael, she’s not looking at the data, she’s looking at the procedure. – If you’ve looked at the procedures, then that means that you did look at some system of data gathering. – We do interviews and we talk to people, and like I said, there’s
nothing from the state that’s come down and said
that you have not filed, you have not submitted
your data information. There would be reports
saying that you didn’t. – Thank you, Sue. – Okay, now, Board, as a board, what area would we like her, like the Cooper Arias LLP
take a look at next year? – And if you decide, then what I can do is do a proposal, to let you know exactly
what we’re going to look at, and make sure that’s
what you want covered. – Harvey, how close are we to expending the Smart Schools Bond Act? – Not very close at all. – Okay. – ‘Cause keep in mind, the largest piece of
what we’re gonna be doing is actually categorized
as a capital project. That’s how the state education
department is requiring, so right now, the architect
is actually drawing up plans and so forth that we have to submit, much like every project. – Right. – So it’s gotta go up there, it will get fast tracked, but don’t expect it to be
spent in the next month or two. – No, but would it be something that we could have the company look at by the end of the year? Or is that still too soon? – It might be too soon, because we don’t know what
the vendor’s going to tell us. They might say, “We can’t
work a second shift.” – Oh, okay. – In which case, then we
have to wait for the summer. – Okay. – Because the kids are in the building. – Okay, okay. Now she had mentioned
buildings and grounds, that kind of piqued my interest a little. – I don’t remember ever
seeing an audit on that, buildings and grounds. – Buildings and grounds, and that, what we’ve done
too is look at work orders, and see how they’re tracked
and things like that. It might be an area that we could look at, not just the accounts payable, ’cause we know they’re being approved, but that could be
something we could look at, and how that’s being tracked. I know we’ve talked to them, we’ve looked at, is this (mumbling)? There he is, I thought, and I think that this was
one of the first districts to really use it. So that’s something we definitely could, use it properly, I should say. A lot of them use it, but don’t — – That’d be great. – But that’s something we
could definitely look at. – What does the rest of the Board think? Would that be a good one? Yeah? All right, consensus, yes? Okay. Let’s take a look at Buildings
and Grounds next year, this year, I guess it is. – Yes, we’re going to do two over one. (laughing) Okay, good. All right, thank you. – Thank you. – Thank you.
– Thanks. – Um, personnel actions? Recommend actions that resolves
upon the recommendation of Superintendent of
Schools, Board of Education, to see if we accept the
following personnel actions, and I’ll take that as per document. – So moved. – Second. – Any discussion? All those in favor? – [All] Aye. – Any opposed? – Any abstentions? Thank you. Anyone has to say anything? – Uh, no. – No, okay. Capital Project building. So Mr. Sotland and Mr. Miller, do you have anything for us? – Well, for those of you who don’t know, tomorrow’s our vote on
the Capital Project. (laughing) December 5th, we’re getting close. We have had six public presentations on the Capital Project, and we’ve had three more
with our faculty and staff, and so we’ve also had a newsletter out to all of our taxpayers,
each of our taxpayers. We’ve had information going
home via the backpack, on some of the information, and I think we’ve really given everyone, if you look on our website at all, it’s a very comprehensive
look at this project, so that part is done, and we’ll wait until
tomorrow to see how we do. – I have a question, that’s all. Driving through town, you wouldn’t know that
there’s a vote tomorrow. There’s not one sign up. You know, I just got
several text messages, and I can share them with you, folks that live in Beaver
Dam and the reserves, totally unaware that there’s a vote. They don’t get The Local, they work in the city. – You know if they got the green, uh — – I received mine. – Okay, thank you. – Oh, I’m pretty sure you received yours. I’m very sure that you received yours. I’m telling you that — – And my neighbors on my
street received theirs, also. – But what I’m saying is, if we have this vote tomorrow, it would have been a good idea to have invested in some lawn signs, and put them out, let the folks know that there’s a vote tomorrow, and it’s an important vote. I’m just suggested why wasn’t that done? – Good question. – You know, I’ve expressed my concern that some residents are just not gonna have the opportunity to vote, so I just feel that we
had the responsibility to make sure that we give it our all. For example, the calls that we make, do they go out to all the taxpayers, or only to the parents? – Yeah, all the taxpayers are not on our school messenger. – Okay, so in other words, all the repeated calls that are nice, I mean, Neil, it’s nice,
we love your voice, but if not all the taxpayers
are getting that message. – Well, that’s why we
send out the newsletter. – Well, the newsletter was sent out right before the holiday, right before Thanksgiving, right? – We all knew about that, too. You here. – I’m sorry? – You here, we knew when
it was gonna be sent out, and there were ads in the paper, so people probably know that there’s a vote tomorrow anyway, so. – I think it was wrong. I think we could’ve done a lot better. – Of course. – But that’s just my thought. – You know, I’ll agree with you, that yes, we may have missed on that one, but when we take a look
at the overall package that we’ve been trying to
put together for information, I think over the past two
years, we’ve done pretty good. Harvey, did you have anything else that you wanted to say? – No, Neil covered it very thoroughly. – Okay, thank you. Linda? Over the past few days, I’ve been asked by a number of people to clarify some information that’s been circulating around town. One question is the legitimacy of having our Capital
Improvement Project vote on December 5th. Although we have addressed
this early on in the process, it again was brought up at the
September 25th board meeting. As a result of that discussion, a request was made to ask our
bond counsel for an opinion. On October 15th, they sent
an email to all board members and Central Administration, that included an attachment that was a copy of an email
from Douglas Goodfriend, our bond counsel, with his response. A copy is in the packet in front of you. The email reads as follows. It’s to Mr. Harvey Sotland, Re Special District Meeting to vote on a Capital
Improvement Financing. “Dear Mr. Sotland, “This is to confirm our
advice to your district, “that a school district is authorized “to call a special district meeting, “on any date other than
the annual meeting date, “for the purpose of
presenting your proposition “to the voters, for the financing
of a capital improvement, “pursuant to education laws
sections 2007.1 and 2038. “The annual meeting date, “being set by statute, “is not a special meeting date. “The statute has been so
interpreted by the courts, “and state education
department over the years, “e.g. Galloway versus Salient. 1939, no, it was 1950, I’m sorry, 1964. “Matter of appeal of
William Birmingham, 1953, “opinion of the Ed Department, 1939. “In more recent years, “there have been various opinions “of the counsel to the
education commissioner “on aspects of special district meetings, “on bond matters that consistently assume “the validity of holding such
a meeting for this purpose. “Decisions number 15-721, 15-161, 14-534, “14-381, 14-034, and 12-767. “With best wishes, very truly yours, “Douglas E. Goodfriend.” In addition to that email, I’ve included in your packet the New York State Education Facilities Planning Newsletter Number 106, May 2011, which states on page three,
paragraph six, quote, “Regular capital projects
will be authorized “by the district taxpayers, “at either the annual budget vote, “or at some other time, “as the board decides to hold a vote “for a capital project,” end quote. As a side, I suggest you
read the entire newsletter, as it’s very informative. I found that interesting newsletter. The difference between a special meeting to have a capital project vote, and the annual meeting,
where we vote on budget is defined by New York State law. The annual meeting is held
on the third Tuesday in May, where the proposed district
budget is voted on, and trustees are elected. You may also vote on, oppose
capital budget at that time. A special meeting is one called for by the Board of Education, called for a specific
purpose, or purposes, such as an election to
fill a trustee opening, a re-vote on the annual budget, or a vote on a capital improvement bond. Also wish to address the difference between the capital
portion of a district’s annual operating budget, and a capital improvement bond. New York state mandates that
our annual operating budget be presented in a three part format that is voted on in its entirety: Administrative component,
Program component, and Capital component. The Capital component includes all costs for facility maintenance operations, including salaries, benefits,
supplies and utilities. Capital expenditures, such as the following
completed natable projects, the middle school track renovation, the rear entry doors of the middle school, high school track resurfacing, the cafeteria floor in the high school, and Willow Avenue Elementary gym windows. – Are you reading from somewhere that we can read with you? – No. – I’m sorry. – Listen. – Okay. – And debt service. The capital component is part of our yearly operating budget, and is not a capital bond project. A capital bond project
is separate and aside from our operating budget. In the packet you have just received is a copy our 2017-2018 proposed budget, which is made available to the public at least 14 days prior to the vote. As per state mandate, you will find a number of attachments to the proposed budget, including our state report card. They were available in our five schools, the district office, the public library, and our website. I hope that you find what I’ve presented informative and helpful, and if there are no questions, we’ll proceed to the
next item on the agenda. – I think it’s a little bit too late for you to be doing this, Larry. I’m sorry. If you’re trying — – I’m gonna, I’m gonna say something, and I’m gonna go off script. We had this conversation two months ago. We told you this two months ago. In October, that letter
came from the bond counsel, you requested it. – I requested the letter — – It came, you got it in October. Period. You kept saying that
the September 5th date was an illegal date. And that’s it. – No. But listen, you’ve opened
this up for conversation, so let’s have the conversation. – No, I opened it up for questions, not a conversation. You have a question, I’ll answer it. – All right, so then, one is that I didn’t
see this on the agenda. You just brought this up
on the agenda without — – This is part of the, uh, – Audit? – Facilities update. – This is part of the
facilities update, okay. – Part of the facilities update. – The reason why I have been
so critical of this process is because from the very beginning, what we’ve been striving for is how we can advance our schools, and from the very beginning
of this facilities review, we were told that we would
provide the community options, and that’s why we were
holding this vote in December. The community’s not getting options now. The reason I ask why aren’t there signs, are we calling all the taxpayers? If Neil is only calling parents, then we are selectively
excluding the taxpayers that do not have children in our schools. – Okay, I need to comment on this. Okay, just like when I can, I go to town board meetings, so that I am an informed
person in the town. I couldn’t go to the meeting tonight that the town was having, because it conflicted with this meeting that I needed to be at. As far as my responsibility, I will be at the town board, the town of Cornwall’s next board meeting, which will be next Monday, which makes me an informed person. I am very saddened that so many people have come out publicly and stating that they feel this is rushed. Well, maybe it’s rushed
because they have chosen not to be informed throughout the year. Maybe it’s because they have chosen to not come to meetings, or to not go to a website, and if they don’t have a computer at home, they can certainly go to the library, the library is an
incredible community center, and they will help anyone who
needs help with the internet. They could watch the meetings. The fact that these
meetings are videotaped is, I think, a tremendous
asset to the community. I have re-watched, after
sitting through a meeting, I have re-watched a meeting,
if I had some questions. So the fact that there’s
so much misinformation, that people don’t understand, that people think this is being rushed, I ask everyone who feels that way where have you been? That, why haven’t you
either come to a meeting, where we have had all of these forums, and sadly, there have
only been a few people at each of them. I don’t understand that. – You know why? – I’m not finished speaking. – Okay. – I’m not finished speaking. Maybe there are some things
we could have done better, because there’s always something
that people can do better, but at some point, people
need to take responsibility for how they get information, and I’m also very saddened
that there has been a lot of misinformation out there, one of that being that
this is an illegal vote, and it is absolutely a legal vote, in the eyes of the law, and if you research it, if anyone was to research, there are a tremendous amount of districts throughout just the Hudson Valley, forget about New York state, that have had budget
votes throughout the year, and they normally do not
do them with their budget, for a variety of different reasons, and it’s not to fake out the community. We have planned this. I went in and as a member
of the Facilities Committee, and I said this at one
of the sessions I was at, when someone was questioning us, one of the forums, and that was the afternoon
forum at Munger Cottage. I was probably the biggest
skeptic of this plan, and I understand it, and yes, because I’ve been to meetings, but it hasn’t stopped anyone
from coming to a meeting and learning and asking
and gathering information. That flier went out, and it went out with the budget vote, the bond vote date, rather, it went out with that date, and maybe that flyer could have gone out a little bit earlier, but
sometimes things don’t happen in the best way, so for anyone to say that
they have not had enough time, or they’re not gonna be able to vote, they can certainly do an absentee ballot just like they could’ve done for any other election
in the state of New York. So I am very saddened by
people that are so critical, but yet have chosen to
not gather information. – Hey, just a comment about
people being informed. You’ve been with us from the beginning. And you’ve been just as
informed as everybody else, and the problem I have is
how disingenuous you are with the letter you put in The Local, and you actually put that misinformation about the law, saying that
it was an illegal vote, should be in May, that is wrong, and you knew it, and you
misled people in that letter by stating that fact. – Dave, I’m really disappointed in you. – You can be disappointed,
but didn’t you, you did it. There’s no doubt about it. You wrote in a letter
that it should be there because of the law. – The spirit of the law — – It’s nothing to do with the
spirit of the law, Raphael. It’s two different
things, and you know it. – It’s not two different things. – And printing that
letter to mislead people, that’s my opinion, and I think
the opinion of everybody here and in the town as well. – Yes, I think this is very well organized and orchestrated event. – Like your ads. They were very orchestrated. – Very well orchestrated. – You’re amazing, you’re amazing. – And I’m disappointed. – Be disappointed, ’cause you’re wrong. – I’m disappointed and
I think that people — – You’re wrong. – Well, I’m telling you, it’s very disappointing, Dave. I’m very disappointed at you. – Really? I didn’t write the letter to
mislead everybody in Cornwall. You did, you did. – In the sprit of good sportsmanship. – There is no spirit. How can you say good spirit? – Don’t make a goal post
to exclude your neighbors. – How can you say that? Your neighbors. – In the spirit of your
good sportsmanship, that’s not good sportsmanship. – The sprit of good sportsmanship? – Yes, you. – Oh, okay. All right. – If you don’t move the goal post. – Yeah, you’re attacking me. Okay, great. – I’m not, I’m just saying — – You’re wrong. – It’s not right or wrong to move the, you know why folks have not been here? They’re not expecting this conversation at this time of the year. – You’re kidding me. – They’re expecting this
conversation in May. – You know how many people
were there on Saturday? We held a Saturday forum. There were five. Other than us that were there. – But that’s the point, Dave. – You weren’t there. – The point that I’m saying is, – What? – Is that people are not
expecting this conversation at this time of the year. – Oh, no, come on. – We’ve been telling people that this vote was gonna be December 5th. – Why didn’t you put up signs? – Oh, stop, Raphael. – You know what? I’ll buy that. We made a mistake. We didn’t put out signs yesterday, the day before that the vote is tomorrow. You’re right. Okay, however, everybody who pays taxes in this school district — – Just keep an open mind. – I’m keeping an open mind. You keep one, too. – I do. – Not by telling everybody
that it’s an illegal vote. – The only voters, just think about it, just think about this. The only notice that
the non-parents received was the mailer that was sent out right before the holidays. – Okay. – And then they had the option to gather information. – That was the only notice. – They could have, Raphael, they could have gone to the website — – That was the only notice that people who do not get The Cornwall Local, that, let’s be honest, because Ken has been doing a very good job of presenting this project. He’s broken it down a couple of times, he has done it over a period of weeks. There is only so much we can do. You can only lead a horse to water. You can’t make him drink it, and the only thing, and I think of this whole conversation, the only thing, thinking back, that maybe we could’ve done differently, is put signs out last week. – Yeah. – You’re right. Okay, all right, thank you. – It is what it is, tomorrow’s the vote. – That’s right. And tomorrow we find out, and as I said from the very
beginning of this process, I said, we were elected by the
taxpayers of this district. We have put forth what we
feel is an appropriate bond. If, however, tomorrow, that goes down, then we have to do something. We have to rework it. If it passes, and the same way, if it passes, that we take a vote, and it passes, and we are all
supposed to work together, and move it forward, if it passes, we will do that. We will work together, and we will move forward, and we will involve the community as we come up with the final floor plans, and fixtures as to what
it’ll look like, plans, yeah. Okay. Recognition of visitors, public comments. – On a more uplifting note, I just heard from Harvey today that both our grants are through, so that means we’re ready
to submit purchase orders once the price is confirmed
for the playground equipment, so I wanted to share the news. (applauding) The Board, I assume you know, but wanted to publicly share the news, and I also wanted to ask Harvey if he found out whether the price was, in fact, fixed and
confirmed from Park (mumbling). – I left a message. They weren’t in, so I’m waiting
for them to get back to me. – Okay, and the date, as you know, but so the Board knows, they move it to December 15th, before the price increase kicks in, so hopefully, we can make it. – Okay, so maybe between
Harvey hocking them, and if you could hock them. – Yes, very good. – Which I’m sure, like my gut is telling me that you probably have them on speedial. – Yep, pretty much. And we’ve talking to Walt Moryn, and we’re aiming for spring break as the build event days. – Dynamite. – ‘Cause that’ll leave some time for the fourth graders, too. – Let us know. We’d love to be there. – Okay, great, thank you. – Anyone else? Okay, closing comments from the Board? Barbara? – Everyone needs to get
out and vote tomorrow, and I think we also have
a concert tomorrow night, at the high school, so I hope
to see people there, too. – Congratulations, finally. That’s great news, and yeah, I will be at the
concert tomorrow night, as well. – Well, I had a great time at
the National Honor Society. It was wonderful to see
all of those students that have achieved so much, and I thank you ladies so much for everything that you have done. You have just hung in there, and you’re gonna make this happen, and it will be a testament to that for many many years, when
kids enjoy that playground.. So thank you very much for that. And again, I hope everyone comes out and votes tomorrow, and I look forward doing
whatever we need to do, whether it’s a yes or a no, I am confident that we can work together and make things better. – You got it. – Jim? – Okay, thank you. First of all, Nancy, thank you for making the
comments you did tonight, and I just want to extend my thanks to both Neil and Harvey, and all the other people who have so aggressively and faithfully worked on the bond proposal. Thank you very much, and again, it’s my wish is that everybody has the opportunity to
go out and vote tomorrow, and in favor of our bond issue. Thank you. – Well, congratulations to
our Playground Committee, and also, Harvey, for your
diligence on this whole project, so that’s just exciting news, and thank you for being here tonight to share that with us, and springtime’s looking good on that, and I also was able to attend the National Honors Society induction. There was almost 90 students. Dave’s son was inducted, as well, and it was just wonderful. It was a wonderful evening to celebrate the good work of so many of our high school students. – Raphael? – Again, I just want to commend you both. You have been an example for all of us. I always say, “from thought to action.” You personify that, you are going to realize many
of our children’s dreams, and that’s because of your tenacity. You just kept at it, you gathered us, you just motivated all of us, so I wanted to thank you
for that good example, and I wanted to thank Harvey, also, for working closely with you, helping that process through, and Senator Larkin, and Mr. Skoufis. They came through big
time for all of us, too. We’re very thankful for their service. So I always want to end
it on a positive note, and you really lifted us up tonight. Thank you. – Peter, I’m sorry that you’re — – Well, I can’t say much about
(mumbling) playground, but. – I’m sorry that you’re beholding
to public transportation. – Oh, right, yes, that was, they decided to cancel a train. So it gets to be the habit once in awhile of New Jersey Transit. Well, tomorrow we will realize
we live in a democracy, and we’ll see what democracy says to us, and let’s take the lessons from that, see what the vote is, and take our lessons, and see what happens, so. – Thank you. And when I saw the email
today about the playground, I was very excited, and I’m sure you’ll
have our two benefactors at its ribbon cutting, and please, let me know when, because I’d love to come down and give you a hand. Okay. Okay, I’d like a motion to go into Executive Session, to discuss personnel and
the sale of real property. Do I have a motion? – So moved. – Second. – All in favor? – [All] Aye. – Opposed? Okay, we will not be coming back to do any business at that time. Anyway, it’s gonna stay anyway.

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