Gateway receives Auditor’s Report

The Gateway Regional School District received a good report card from auditor Stanley Kulas at last night’s school committee meeting in Huntington, despite the series of challenges that have faced the district already this year, including the transportation overage and the water main break.
CPA Kulas noted in the FY11 audit that overall the district’s assets exceeded liabilities by $1,488,000, including $815,000 which had been set aside to finance this year’s (FY12) obligations, and $673,000 in the Excess & Deficiency Fund, which may be used for emergencies.  “Reserves are available to help defray occurrences that might take place that you haven’t budgeted for,” he said, referring to the recent water main breakage.  Gateway’s overall FY11 budget was $16,711,407.
Kulas said the revolving funds are also all showing fund balances, which he called “a healthy sign.”
As a mandated reporter on federal grants, Kulas said that Gateway receives one and a half million dollars for two federal programs, Title 1 (Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged) and Special Education. Kulas said, “There were no findings in regards to compliance with these federal programs.”
“This is the first district we audit every year because you have a business manager (referring to Stephanie Fisk) who puts together the numbers faster than I can audit,” Kulas added. “I just wanted the public to know that auditors do say nice things sometimes.”  The FY11 audit will be posted on the district website at www.grsd.org.
The water problems are not completely fixed. Brian Wing, Gateway Facilities Director, reported that they recharged the well with chlorine on Tuesday, and removed an air pocket. Now they have to wait for a zero count of chlorine before they can take another bacteria count, which must also be zero before the Department of Environmental Protection will lift the declaration of emergency. On Monday, certified water operators Bernie and Doreen St. Martin worked with the DEP on the latest plan. Wing said the DEP gave them a thumbs-up, and said they are doing nothing wrong.  “Maybe a few more days and we’ll be okay,” Wing added.
Dr. David Hopson, District Superintendent, said the cost of the water breakage has now exceeded $30,000, but insurance will cover all but the $2,500 deductible and cost of labor.  Meanwhile, Fisk said that Gateway just received a second donation of water from Stop & Shop in Westfield.
Also at the meeting, business manager Stephanie Fisk gave a presentation on energy savings through recent conservation efforts by the district.  Some of the district’s efforts over the past four years have included the phasing out of vending machines, down from ten to two – one in the cafeteria and one in the teacher’s room – which, while unpopular, resulted in big savings in energy.  Indoor and outdoor lights are on motion sensors and programmable timers, and old refrigerators have been replaced with Energy Star appliances. Future plans include LED conversion lights in the parking lots and auditorium.
The overall savings for all the schools from July through October of this year has been $12,585, which is not as great as the savings in kilowatt-hours (84,209), because the cost of electricity has gone up, Fisk said.  The district is also forming an Energy Management Committee, which will include Stephanie Fisk, Brian Wing, and a representative from each school.
Recently, Massachusetts was named the number one state in the country in energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), overtaking California in the top spot.

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