PLAINFIELD, NJ — The first business meeting of the year began with the recognition of members of Plainfield's Board of Education in honor of New Jersey’s School Board Recognition Month. The district's auditors presented its latest findings at Tuesday's meeting, and the status of the board's goals were also topics of discussion.
Yolanda Koons, Board Secretary and Acting Business Administrator, read the resolution to recognize the school board, while Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell presented each of the members with a framed certificate and thanked them for their endless hours of service.
Gary Higgins of Lerch, Vinci, Higgins, LLC, the district’s auditors for the past five years, introduced the 2018/2019 audit findings. It was noted that findings from the prior audit had been resolved, and there were no carry-over items. According to Higgins, this year's findings were not considered significant issues.
Five new findings included two on Purchasing — Board approval is needed for State or co-operative contracts exceeding the $40,000 bid threshold, and capital projects like the Barlow Cafetorium need to file a “post award” notice to the State Comptroller’s Office as the contract exceeded $2 million.
Two findings related to student body activities found that pre-numbered receipts and use of appropriate withdrawal forms for cash disbursements were lacking at Maxson Middle School, while supporting documentation for cash disbursements was not available for review at some elementary schools. Internal controls over District Report of Transported Resident Students (DRTRS) also needed to be enhanced as some children on the report were found to be ineligible.
During public comment the status and availability of the Board’s strategic plan was raised by resident Katherine Balch, while David Graves asked about their goals. Board President Cameron Cox indicated that the agenda included the approval of Write Keys 2 Consulting, LLC to deliver Board Governance and Equity Training to develop a strategic plan at an upcoming retreat.
Board member Lynn Anderson-Person later noted that without a current updated strategic plan it would be hard for she and her colleagues to navigate without “marching orders” from the community, saying it should be an “outside in” process.
Emily Morgan raised some concerns with discrepancies between budget reports versus the State’s approved budget, and noted that a preliminary budget report would need to be approved by March 17. Cox confirmed that a separate meeting will be scheduled with the County Business Administrator, the Board's Acting Business Administrator, and the Superintendent to address the disparities.
The Board of Education will hold its next Work and Study Meeting on Tuesday, February 4 at Plainfield High School, 950 Park Ave.
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