School Department looks to add 
oversight with finance supervisor

School Department looks to add 
oversight with finance supervisor

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The search for a finance supervisor for the North Providence School Department continues after the sole candidate for the position withdrew his application last week.

The supervisor position was added to the schools’ finance department as part of a revenue-neutral restructuring of the department, approved by the School Committee in January. Officials said reorganizing the department would help ensure efficiency, provide appropriate oversight and help to more adequately staff the department by upgrading its level of expertise.

Supt. Joe Goho said the goal is to “upgrade credentials and expertise in the department to bring improved fiscal controls and accountability, and to have a contingency plan with an appropriately credentialed professional in place in the event something happens to the finance director.”

The position was posted Jan. 25, but the school board has struggled to attract candidates with the required level of expertise. While the job posting closed for applicants on March 29, Goho said school officials would reopen it after the committee’s only candidate dropped out.

“We’ve had great difficulty getting someone with those credentials to accept the job at the salary range budgeted,” he said. “People with the financial background we are looking for are in great demand in the marketplace.”

Before this year’s restructuring, the department was made up of a finance director, who oversaw three additional position, an account and finance controller, an accounts payable clerk and a payroll clerk. Under the new structure, the finance director oversees the finance supervisor, who is responsible for managing an account and finance officer and the payroll clerk.

The department’s workload would essentially shift to existing staff, with the account and finance controller transitioning into an accounts and finance officer. The accounts payable clerk position was eliminated, saving $32,500, while the finance supervisor was added at no additional cost.

Under the plan, the supervisor would be an experienced accountant, responsible for reviewing payroll, purchasing and accounts receivable process. A presentation by Director of Finance Ronald Gonsalves said the supervisor would help reinforce the department’s objectives of operational efficiency, reliable financial reporting and compliance with laws, regulations and policies and procedure.

“This position will be an integral part of the reliability of financial data and transaction processing, including ensuring the appropriate segregation of duties,” Gonsalves said. For example, an employee that collects checks would not be able to deposit the checks.

Gonsalves said the plan would incur no additional costs for the district, and that savings may be experienced from a decline in turnover, eliminating roughly $20,000 in overtime costs for the central administration building, and eliminating outside business consultant contracts.

Reorganizing the department is one of several steps school officials have taken to ensure there are “proper checks and balances in place,” said Goho, in the wake of his predecessor’s arrest for embezzlement and fraud. Goho said the School Committee is also in the process of reviewing its policies, and that a soon-to-be-completed audit by Bob Civetti will provide “an excellent blueprint that we fully intend to follow to implement sufficient fiscal controls and oversight moving forward.”

Improved financial oversight has been an especially hot topic in the wake of the arrest of former Supt. Bridget Morisseau, accused on felony counts related to using a school credit card to make personal purchases.

Comments

No wonder they couldn't attract any candidates it's hard to find a fall guy who will work that cheap.