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New Hyde Park Illustrated News - Schools

Risk Assessment Report Discussed At Herricks

The results of the Herrick School District’s Annual Initial Risk Assessment report were discussed at the Oct. 24 school board meeting, detailing the internal controls of Herricks schools; where they excelled, and where they needed to improve.

Board welcomed representatives of their internal auditor, Pappas and Company, who were present at the meeting that evening to give a rundown of their findings for Herricks’ 2013 fiscal year, according to Helen Costigan, assistant superintendent for business.

“We have three auditors...last board meeting, we heard the report of the external auditor – they do an actual, complete financial audit,” she said. “This time we will be hearing from the internal auditors, who review procedures regarding our assets, and they make recommendations and look into different areas.”

The areas that the internal auditors from Pappas and Company looked at included Herricks’ Information Technology, special Eeducation costs and staff attendance.

The auditors found that Herricks website was very adequate as far as its ability to communicate information to the community, but suggested that the district adopt alternate means of communication, including email blasts.

The district’s special education programs was found to be well-run as far as it’s operating costs and billing went, but the Pappas and Company representatives suggested the creation of an operating manual to deal with issues of turnover and the transitions of new employees to their new assignments.

And finally, the auditors applauded Herricks’ adoption of the Aesop Attendance Sub Caller program, which employees can use to electronically inform the district of absences and arrange the use of substitute teachers; the Pappas and Company said that the Board should consider expanding the use of Aesop from teachers, teacher assistants, aides, and nurses, to other employees as well, such as custodians and buildings and grounds personnel.

The board of education also voted to approve the license agreement with the Tilles Center for the district’s 2014 Middle School Graduation; however, while the measure was passed, Board President James Gounaris took exception with the fact that the Tilles Center, despite several factors that contributed to an unpleasant graduation ceremony hosted at their facility last year, still saw fit to raise their fee for the Herricks district this year an additional $300 for a total of $9,013.

“We had no air conditioning last year, which made things very uncomfortable,” he said. “There also wasn’t enough staff and it lead to some security concerns...there was a big jam in the lobby and the staircases, and there was very little staff to direct things. One person falling and they would have been trampled. It was really brutal at that point, and we would like some compensation for our experience last year, as opposed to paying an extra $300 more.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. John E. Bierwirth echoed Gounaris’ sentiments regarding the Tilles Center,

“Our previous graduation ceremonies at the Tilles Center are great, but last year was not as good of an experience,” he said. “It was not up to their standards.”

It was also announced that the school district will be outsourcing the grading of New York State teacher assessment testing to an outside company in order to reduce the workload of in-house staff; this was a measure, Superintendent Bierwirth said, that was likely coming in the near future anyway.

“Since these tests are tied to teacher’s evaluation scores, the state is probably going to force districts to send them out to a third party state-wide pretty soon,” he said. “So, what we’re doing is probably what’s going to happen across the state.”

Also, a successful agreement with cafeteria staff in regards to their new contract was revealed at the meeting; their previous contract had ended a year ago.