by Autumn Evans
The company that oversaw the Niagara-Wheatfield School District's recent independent audit gave a report of its findings at the school board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 15.
The meeting began at 8:20 p.m. in the Adult Learning Center at Niagara-Wheatfield High after an extended executive session.
Luke Malecki of Drescher and Malecki LLP said the district showed improvement from last year.
"This year, there were two items that were warranted as significant deficiencies, which sounds alarming, but last year there was one material weakness enforcing those deficiencies, so that's certainly a great improvement from one year to the next," he said, adding that one of those deficiencies was already being addressed.
Malecki also said unanticipated reimbursements from the state and Medicaid resulted in $1.2 million for the district, plus savings from retirements and workers benefits.
He reported that the general fund had an increase of $2.5 million. He suggested some of that surplus be used to even out the school lunch program, which has been operating in the red. Afterward, there would be $2.2 million left.
Malecki suggested that $700,000 of that money be used to fund the transportation reserve, with more surplus going toward the employee retirement system.
The unassigned fund balance increased by $320,000.
Malecki also reported a $156 discrepancy in the federal aid program, which he called a minor error and attributed to a clerical error.
In other school board news:
•Edward Town Middle School Assistant Principal John Fitzpatrick resigned from his position to become the principal of Grand Island's Veronica E. Connor Middle School.
"Please know that I leave Niagara-Wheatfield grateful," Fitzpatrick said. "I am very grateful for the experiences and opportunities that were afforded to me as a student, a teacher, a coach, an administrator. I will carry this district with me always in my new endeavor as principal of Veronica Connor Middle School."
•Sanborn resident RoseMary Warren brought up the uniform lunch prices between elementary and high school students. She said she didn't think the younger children should pay as much as the older students.
•Warren also told the board she didn't agree with Gina Terbot's urging parents to continue fundraising even though cut programs had been reinstated.
"I think you're wrong in doing that. You're letting the board off too easy ... I'd hold this board their feet to the fire," Warren said.
Terbot responded at the end of the meeting, not as a board member but as a member of the Niagara Wheatfield Sports Alliance.
"I will continue to be on the NWSA and fundraise," Terbot said. "It is my hope that as we continue fundraising as the NWSA, we can provide extras and not have to pay for programs in future years."
•Wheatfield resident Beatrice Singh-Arnone addressed the board to thank the entire N-W community for their support after her daughter was in a car accident last February.
"Overwhelming support came from people all over the district in all forms, and there's just no way I could name them all," Singh-Arnone said. "You should know that this is not an exception for our community. As a teacher here, I've seen it done time and time again, that our district members rally when someone is in need."