.

UPDATE: Drew, Nocera Release Statement on Deficit

The mayor and school board chairman say the issue over who had control of the funds was a "philosophical disagreement" and that the school district agrees that it has to pay back the money.

 

There is no "missing money" from either city or Board of Education budget accounts and there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the ongoing issue of how the school board incurred a $1 million budget deficit, Mayor Dan Drew and school board Chairman Gene Nocera said in a joint statement released today.

The statement was in reaction to comments made Monday at the Board of Education's budget committee meeting and, apparently, to comments made by some residents who have questioned how the deficit occurred and who is to blame.

In the statement, the mayor and board chairman say the problem appears to be related, in part, to the school's accounting practices and to the administration's decision to use grant funds in excess of what was disbursed to the district. The statement said both city and school officials are focused on fixing the problem and making sure it doesn't happen again.

The pdf above contains the entire statement.

 

EARLIER STORY:

Did the city violate a state requirement when it took, two years in a row, a special education grant intended for the as school officials have claimed?

A series of emails between city and school finance officials indicates school administrators believe the city violated the requirement. The emails include a memo from a state official that says cities and towns cannot keep certain special education funds if their local school districts need them to cover unexpected special education costs, as Middletown did in 2010 and 2011.

The emails, during 2010 and 2011, also shed some light on how terse the relationship had become between city and school finance officials, including one in which city Finance Director Carl Erlacher describes school Business Manager Nancy Haynes as “unprofessional” and another in which he tells her to “have her boss call me.”

“Carl, it is unfortunate you find my attempt to improve financial controls and processes unprofessional,” Haynes replies in an email to Erlacher. “As a fellow finance professional I would have expected support.”

You can view the emails, as well as related financial data and an outline of events leading up to the school board’s realization that it has a $1 million deficit, in the pdf above.

The missives are part of a that has waged between the city and school board over the last couple of years regarding who controls certain funds that come to the city but are earmarked for school expenses.

The dispute has included a lawsuit the school district filed in 2010 to block the city from using state education funds. The school district argues that the city twice, once in 2010 and again in 2011, used the so-called “special education excess costs grant." The school district says the city used some $857,000 in those grant funds to balance its own budget. The missing school funds are largely what have created the current $1 million shortfall in the school board’s budget, officials said this week.

The dispute appears to have dissipated somewhat with the election of Mayor Dan Drew in November, although some school board members are now raising questions about why the city is not stepping forward to pay the district back the $857,000.

jane February 14, 2012 at 10:26 PM
So if I read this correctly- gene Nocera agrees with the Mayor that this 1 million dollar budget descrepancy is the error or mismanagement of budgeting practices by the administration? Making sure this won't happen again in the future is not enough dr. Nocera- it is time to hold this level of incompetance accountable- a mismanaged budget shortfall of a million dollars is no little mistake.
Chris Healy February 14, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Oh is this the same Dan Drew that said then-Mayor Seb Giuliano was all wrong about the Board of Eduction hiding $1 million in taxpayer money? Gosh what changed his mind except the facts.
John Q. Public February 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM
The documents show quite clearly that the only one hiding the money was Seb. Just as you did in the campaign, you claim documents mean the exact opposite of what they say. Nice job in getting Dan elected Chris. He couldn't have done it without you.
My Opinion February 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Get rid of Dr. Frechette and all the crony BOE members. We need to flush out the crap and start a new with higher standards, and cleaner records. Poor accounting procedures are no excuse for $1million dollars unaccounted for correctly!
jane February 15, 2012 at 01:18 PM
I left the BOE meeting very confused. Special Ed money was used by the city two years in a row? It makes it hard for parents to figure out who is telling the truth- How does a city budget get money earmarked for education? But yet the money for education comes from the city- It would be easier to figure it out if they weren't fighting back and forth. How Dr. Nocera stays calm and professionall while accusations fly angrily- is amazing.
Bob February 15, 2012 at 07:41 PM
John Q. Public- all your statements are always pro Democrat and Dan Drew and blame Giuliano for everything!Are you really Quentin Phipps, Mike Johnson or are you Dan Drew or Lisa & Bob Santangelo? Come on! Why hide?
John Q. Public February 15, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Wrong on all counts. Did you overlook my defense of Tom Sebold? Did you miss my comments opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants and the dream act? Not exactly the Democratic party line, is it? I simply call 'em the way I see 'em. Incidentally, "Bob" you are hardly in a position to criticize someone for not fully identifying themselves. Maybe you are really Seb, or perhaps Christine Bourne?
Darrell Lucas February 16, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I'm Darrell and here's my other brother Darrell.

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