Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Forensic Audit of Phoenixville Schools Completed

Last night's Phoenixville School Board meeting was held online.

The long awaited forensic audit of the Phoenixville School District's finances has finally been completed.

However, the results are not being made public because the matter has been referred to the Phoenixville Police Department and the Chester County District Attorney's office for possible criminal investigation.

The investigation will be led by Phoenixville Detective Sergeant Patrick Mark, according to a release issued Monday by the district.

Mark is working closely with Assistant District Attorney Myles Mattson, according to the district's release.

Among the things that led to the audit was the discovery of an over-payment of per capita tax revenues to Phoenixville Borough that should have remained with the school district. The district and borough have negotiated a schedule for repayment.

The investigation was described as "potential misappropriation of funds by a former PASD employee."

"At the request of the investigating authorities, the audit will not be released to the public until we receive clearance from the police and the district attorney," the release stated.

"The forensic audit will be released to the public once the district is advised to do so by the police and the DA," according to the school district statement.

It was last September that the district first announced the discovery of "discrepancies" in its finances in the wake of the resignation of former business manager Chris Gehris.

The district learned of potential misappropriations last August. 

A forensic audit firm named EisnerAmper was retained in late October, and their work has been ongoing. 

Although the district pledged "transparency" in the matter, accusation of a lack of it have arisen at several school board meetings in recent months.

Last month, at an unusual Sunday school board meeting, the last held in person before all Pennsylvania school buildings were shut down, the acceptance of the regular annual audit became a flashpoint for questions about the forensic audit.

At Monday night's school board meeting, held online, Superintendent Alan Fegley said the firm conducting the annual audit discussed the forensic audit with EisnerAmper in February.

He also said documents related to the forensic audit, including a full timeline, but not the results, are to be posted on the "School Board" tab of PASD.com, the school district's web page.

Information from the forensic audit was also shared with the district's bond counsel and rating agencies, said Fegley.

Site of the 29.5 acres the Phoenixville School District

purchased last November.
The matter is of some importance given that the purchase last November of 29.5 acres acres off Hares Hill Road in East Pikeland for $3.5 million, where a new school building is anticipated. That new building will undoubtedly require a major borrowing to finance construction.

Interim Business Manager Richard Fazio reported to the board Monday night that the district's bond rating had been "double A two with a negative outlook."

However, Fazio said he and Fegley made two presentations to Moody's rating service and, as a result, the rating has been upgraded to "double A two with a stable outlook."

The change, Fazio said, will save taxpayers between $160,000 and $400,000 "of reduced interest costs" when the district does issue a bond offering.

No comments:

Post a Comment