"Considering the financial scandals that have occurred recently (in the Roslyn and William Floyd school districts) on Long Island and the fact that nearly one-third of proposed school budgets have been rejected by voters, school district accountability is a serious, growing concern," Padavan said in a prepared statement. "(The Legislature) needs to act immediately in order to restore public confidence in the way school district finances are handled."The bill would create a claims auditor for each district, which would report directly to the trustees or the district's board. Additionally, the legislation would require districts to perform an internal audit before July 1, 2006. Under the bill, school districts would have to create an audit committee to oversee and report to the board on the annual audit and oversee internal audit functions. Also included in the measure is a requirement for districts to contract external auditing services and to start a proposal process on July 1, 2005. The contracts are limited to five years. School board members who are elected by that date would have to undergo training on financial oversight and accountability within the first year of their election or appointment. The plan is part of a package of bills on the issue. There is also legislation that would require the state comptroller to perform audits once every five years as well as additional audits in between that time as well as a measure that would increase the penalty for school district officials who steal funds from the district.The legislation that Padavan co-sponsored passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly's education committee. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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