More info should be released regarding excess cost grant procedures

To the Editor:

As my discussion with Board of Finance members John Zagrodzky, Liz Mao and Bruce Orr regarding the CohnReznick Excess Cost Grant report continued past the televised meeting, I would like to add comments publicly:

• Auditor Joe Centofani conducted over 300 SEDAC/Excess Cost Grant audits for Connecticut school districts; a significant number.

• The Board of Education proactively implemented procedures to track actual costs for high cost students prior to the release of this report; if followed we should have a sound basis for future filings.

• During Mr. Huot’s tenure with the district, the state Department of Education requested expanded testing of our Excess Cost Grant filings due to significant reimbursements Darien received.  The town auditor reported no deficiencies, and made no mention of the matter in town audits. Nevertheless some record of these tests, reportedly taking approximately 100 hours, should exist, and should be released.

• CohnReznick Exhibit 2 does not fully clarify the reconciliation process for 2012-13, and should be revised accordingly.

• Speculation the district improperly used reimbursed funds (assuming sole funding for the grant comes from the State) doesn’t appear to be upheld by the grant filing guidelines which states: “If sufficient local funds are appropriated to cover the costs of these students, then there is no restriction on the town’s use of the state grant funds.”

Thank you again to everyone, especially Mr. Zagrodzky, who worked to identifying and correct these issues.

Lisbeth Ehrlich

Darien

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