Hannibal Schools Nearing a Purchasing Policy after a Critical Audit

Hannibal’s Board of Education recently took the first step towards revising a policy on purchasing that came under sharp criticism from the New York State Comptroller’s office.

The board accepted a draft of a revised purchasing policy, the first step towards its review and eventual adoption.

The Comptroller’s Office audited some purchases by the district from July, 2009 to September, 2010.  The office alleged that the district failed to seek competitive bids on two of the ten purchases that it audited, and failed to seek written or verbal quotes for 5 of 21 purchases that fell below the amount required to seek bids.

The audit also found that the district could not account for more than 3,000 gallons of gasoline because it did not have an effective way to track how gas is pumped.  That situation was remedied over the summer.

Then-Superintendent of Schools Mike DiFabio wrote in response that the district disagreed with some of the findings but agreed that a written purchasing policy should be enacted.

In other items:

  • District Acting Superintendent Pete Backus said that the state is reviewing the district’s ideas for some extra renovations, using money left over from the current construction project.  The extra work has to fit into the scope of the current project, and as long as it stays within the amount of money allowed for the project, it can go ahead, Backus said.  The district hopes to be able to do the work next summer;
  • A new Hannibal school district website is coming.  Backus praised Jody Musa, Carol Burch and Dan Rupert for their work to rebuild the website.  “There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen,” Musa said of the number of people allowed to make changes to the site. “A lot of information, but not very organized.”  Each school will have its own online calendar and each parent will have their own password to be able to see the courses their student is taking and other personalized information;
  • One board member voted against the monthly list of job appointments and resignations because of what she called “a fiasco” over changes to bus driver work schedules.  Backus explained that the state dropped its requirement that schools reserve a seat on a bus for every child in the district, whether they take the bus to school or not. Some older students drive themselves to school while some younger students are driven to school by parents or walk.  Backus said that reduced the number of bus routes by 5 and because drivers bid on the routes they want to drive, some wound up with routes that were less than full-time.  The agenda contained a drop from full-time to half-time for one driver and to three-quarter time for another.  After the explanation, board member Linda Warrick voted no on the entire list of appointments, though the rest of the board approved it;
  • The district’s representative on the BOCES Board of Education, former Board of Education member Donna Blake, reported to the board.  She said that the BOCES board sharply reduced the amount of money that BOCES administrators wanted to put into reserve funds. The changes mean that there is a little more than $1 million available to be returned to the 9 school districts that make up BOCES.  Blake said that the BOCES board approved a limit of $140,000 – 150,000 on the salary of the next BOCES Superintendent.  A search is underway now.  The new Superintendent will not be required to move to Oswego County.  And BOCES is looking for a better deal on its employee prescription drug benefits after discovering that current provider POMCO charges $1.90 per prescription;
  • The board approved moving the annual spring break week to the first week of April to avoid conflict with the crucial state exams scheduled for the third week of the month.