School Audit Finds $783,000 Food Services Debt
The district owes this money to Chartwells.
A recently completed annual audit of the Hoboken public schools has showed that the district owes $783,000 to its food services vendor Chartwells.
The Hoboken Public Schools—while operating on a surplus—is $783,000 in debt to its food service provider Chartwells, an annual audit done by firm Lerch, Vinci & Higgins has showed.
The audit had seven recommendations, none of them were "repeat recommendations," former business administrator Robert Davis said during Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Auditor Dieter Lerch, present at Tuesday night's school board meeting, said that the audit requires the school district to take action on this item. Another issue that came up in the audit is that the Hoboken School Board spends significantly more per pupil in legal costs than New Jersey's average, which is at $47.
The food service, at the moment, isn't self sustaining, Davis explained. Most of the debt is caused by the fact that the school board hasn't collected the money it owes from parents in the district. This doesn't apply to those students who are eligible for the free- and reduced lunch program.
Davis said that the sustainability of the food services program will also depend on whether or not the universal breakfast program will be profitable.
The district also lost out on some free and reduced lunch money, because it filed for the reimbursements too late, Davis said. Davis did say, however, that all districts are entitled to one late filing without consequences and added he'd try to get the funds back.
According to William Takacs, the district's new business administrator—who was appointed on Tuesday night in a unanimous vote—the school district will send out a request for proposal to potentially find a new food vendor and "to see what else is out there."
The debt, Takacs continued, has been building for four or five years.
A lot of the debt is caused by parents who haven't been paying the money to go toward the program, said school board member Peter Biancamano in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Whatever happens, board member Biancamano said he wants to make sure the board gets the money it's owed. The list of parents who owe money is known to the board.
"I don't want to see us write it off," he said, "they need to continue to go after parents."