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Office of the New York State Comptroller

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

New York City Department of Education
William Alexander Middle School: Management of General School Funds (Issued 4/19/12)


Purpose
To determine if William Alexander Middle School officials properly managed and administered the school's General School Funds account and if monies from that account were properly accounted for and spent for the benefit of students for the period July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010.

Background
Many public schools in New York City maintain General School Funds (GSF) and related bank accounts to deposit and account for fees received from students, including fundraising activities such as bake sales, and candy sales. The funds are generally used to support student activities. Between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, William Alexander officials deposited $1,111,695 in the school's GSF account and paid out $1,043,586.

Key Findings

  • School officials used GSF funds to make 99 payments totaling $58,825, unrelated to student activities. The school's Parent Teacher Association reimbursed $42,555 of these payments. Of the remaining $16,270, $4,614 directly benefited school officials and staff, including cost for staff lunches and holiday parties, gift cards for teachers and a computer that appears to have been used by the principal for personal purposes. The other $11,656 paid for items that should have been funded through the school's normal budget and tax levy funds.
  • Three teachers each cashed $1,000 checks to pay gratuities for student trips and events. However, vendor invoices for some of these events show that gratuities were already included. Since the teachers' payments were made in cash with no receipts, there is no assurance the funds were actually used as reported.
  • Internal controls over cash receipts, disbursements and recordkeeping practices are generally inadequate, evidencing a poor control environment established by school officials. In many cases required forms were not used, journal entries were not made, and supporting documentation was not retained. As a result, we cannot be certain how much money students actually raised during our audit period, nor whether it was all properly deposited.

Key Recommendations

  • Investigate the principal's inappropriate use of computer equipment purchased with GSF funds and pursue disciplinary action as appropriate.
  • Reimburse the GSF account for the remaining $16,270 of inappropriate expenditures identified in this report.
  • Prohibit the use of GSF funds to pay additional gratuities when such amounts are already included in original charges for student events. Where gratuities are warranted, ensure that the payments are properly supported and made by check.

Link to full audit report (2010-N-10)

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest
New York City Department of Education: John F. Kennedy Education Campus: Management of General School Funds Report 2009-N-11


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone:(518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236