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June 10, 2013

Preliminary state audit of Vo-Tech has findings

NEW CASTLE — State auditors have cited two findings at Lawrence County Career and Technical Center during a preliminary audit review.

Auditors of the state auditor general’s office met privately Friday with center director Dr. Andrew Tommelleo; the joint operating committee’s superintendent of record, Dr. Alfonso J. “Butch” Angelucci, and joint operating committee member Alan Carlson, to review the center’s finances for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

Tommelleo said Ed Heasley and Anthony Celli of the auditor general’s Erie office “were very cautious because this is tentative.”

In the review, the auditors gave school officials a chance to formally respond before the  report is finalized.

The findings were similar to those recently presented publicly to the joint operating committee in a local audit performed by Mark Turnley of Ambridge.

One involves a deficit in the adult practical nursing program. The other involves internal business office practices, Tommelleo said.

The practical nursing program owes the center about half a million dollars for past rent and operating costs, and in turn, the center owes its member school districts for enrollment reimbursement that it instead used for the operational costs. The nursing program director and Tommelleo attributed the deficit to a retention problem with the nursing program’s enrollment.

“It was the same thing we’ve been talking about,” Tommelleo said. “We’re not disputing that.”

The school officials informed the auditors that the joint operating committee voted Wednesday to end the nursing program in February 2014, once the existing nursing classes are graduated.

The second finding —  a lack of internal controls in the center’s business department — is the result of a lack of staffing, Tommelleo said.

“The auditor also said there is a segregation of duties issue.”

He said the auditors compared the problem to other career and technical centers and schools because of financial inabilities to hire more staff, Tommelleo said.

He said Heasley suggested that member schools share the help of their business managers.

Tommelleo said he and Angelucci discussed using the services of the business manager representing the district of the superintendent of record, and having that person working with the center’s assistant business manager.

“By involving the business manager of the new superintendent of record, it could be an opportunity to help with the lack of staffing,” he said, noting that the auditor emphasized that could be acceptable “where feasible.”

The same finding was in Turnley’s local audits for previous years.

Tommelleo noted the center has been using the help of Laurel’s learning support supervisor for a few years. The center and districts also have discussed sharing staff such as school psychologists and classroom teachers, he said.

He pointed out that on a positive note, Heasley reported that every dollar of state subsidies totaling $1.4 million was accounted for and properly documented.

Angelucci was reluctant to comment further on the audit, saying that it “is still in draft form and hasn’t been finalized.”

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