BRISTOL - Communication is opening up between the Board of Education, City Council and Board of Finance as they prepare for a forensic operational audit of the past two years.
After a roughly $2 million deficit was found in the education budget each of the last two years due to special education cost overruns, the city is preparing to conduct a forensic operational audit. Members of the council and boards said increased communication of financial information will help prevent this from happening in the future.
The Board of Finance met Tuesday night and selected BlumShapiro, a public accounting firm, to conduct an audit of the education budgets for 2016-17 and 2015-16.
Cheryl Thibeault, chairwoman of the finance board, said the decision was a “collective opinion” that BlumShapiro had “the best presentation,” and “seemed to understand the grasp of the matter better than the other firms.”
The joint board of the council and Board of Finance also met Tuesday night. At that meeting, the city’s comptroller, Diane Waldron, told the board, “Going forward the Board of Ed and the city, we have been meeting and going over some of their revenues and most of their expenditures for the special education in particular. So I just want you all to know there is a dialogue going on trying to monitor those costs and I know they have been coming before the Board of Finance to report on that.”
When the audit is conducted and a report is made, it will be presented to the finance board and made public. Waldron noted, “The auditors will be here at the end of the month.”
Orlando Calfe, member of the finance board, asked Waldron if the education board has incorporated a line item specifically for special education costs, which was previously recommended and is where the deficit is believed to have come from.
Waldron responded, “They have broken out into special reports the special education funds,” which have been shared with the finance board.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-973-5088.