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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 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."

Redrider765 December 23, 2011 at 08:17 PM
The only ethical lapse is the continued baseless accusations by people who don't give 2 shits about anything but taking control over the BOE and it's budget for their own benefit.
Grafix Avenger December 23, 2011 at 09:12 PM
So who's the REAL Curious Gal? http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2011/12/smartboards-and-irs.html
Grafix Avenger December 23, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Hey Passkey, how about worrying about the illiterates in Texas, your state of residence. And yes, Kids First is doing a great job. http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2011/12/smartboards-and-irs.html
CuriousGal December 26, 2011 at 03:06 PM
From the 2010 Hoboken School District Audit Report: Finding 2009-3: Our audit revealed a year end deficit of $244, 992 in unrestricted net assets in the Food Service Fund. Current Status: Corrective action has been taken Even more revealing is this excerpt from the 2010 Hoboken School District Management Report: "The food service management contract for the 2010/2011 year has guaranteed that the operations will at least break even. According to District management, the District has also implemented certain other cost reductions and increased food sales prices in an effort to reduce the deficit. Therefore, no recommendation is deemed warranted" Clearly, corrective action that was promised in 2010 never took place. The result, as the article in PATCH points out is that the 2011 Hoboken School District Audit Report indicates an additional $365,000 deficit in the food service program. This would not have occurred had the District management (BA Davis?) implemented what was reported in the District Management Plan for the 2010-2011 school year. As far back as the 2009 Hoboken School District Audit Report we read "part of the deficit was due to parents not paying their school lunch bills" but evidently very little has been done in the intervening 25 months under Kids First leadership and BA Davis to rectify the situation.
HobokenLeaks December 26, 2011 at 03:33 PM
A very Bajardi Christmas, a few hours off and back to hissing and spitting. Tell Beth you don't need the money that bad and you and Lane want the day off like the rest of the world.
Redrider765 December 26, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Clearly the concept of price elasticity is a tad too complicated for Curiouslyobtusegal
CuriousGal December 27, 2011 at 02:45 PM
It now is starting to become evident that the legal fees for the Hoboken School District are closer to 125% over the state average for district legal expenses (state average is $47 per student). The actual percentage is still to be made public. Evidently, neither the auditor or BA could recall that the district was paying at least double the state average at the public meeting on Dec 13 meeting despite the former writing the report and the later introducing the report before the Dec 13 meeting.
CuriousGal December 28, 2011 at 02:01 PM
More on legal fees for the Hoboken Board of Education (numbers are based on per pupil expenses): 2009-2010: $126* ($277,000) 2010-2011: $160* ($336,000) 2011-2012: $91* (estimate) ($191,000) * According to the State of New Jersey guidelines and based on a state average $47 per student, legal costs should equal @ $84,600 for the Hoboken School District based on student population (All data obtained by open public records requested documents and information)
johnsmith December 28, 2011 at 02:51 PM
CuriousGirl, not curious about context? New lawyer came in 2009? What was happening before then? Was previous attorney really cheaper or did he give away the store? What about the 12 or so unlawful contracts before 2009, no costs with that?
ThisMeansWar December 28, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Lane Bajardi has never appeared in an ELEC report for Beth Mason or Tim Occhipinti. He appears in this midnight video for Occhipinti's campaign leaders. http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2010/10/grist-for-mill-midnight-monday-meeting.html Is he credited in Beth Mason's IRS filings? Does he credit her in his tax forms? http://www.fbi.gov/news/videos/inside-the-fbis-internet-tip-line
pied piper December 28, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Odd. I checked data you used. I noticed pre 2009 budget there was no legal fees for the district noted- $0 was actually placed in the 2008/09 budget.("Legal Costs: 2008-0 ,2009-126 2010-160, 2011-$91") When researching pre 08/09 budgets- thru 05/06 couldn't find any legal fees. only found the following, noted under legal reserve: 2006-2,560,106 2007-2,454,259 2008-886,739 2009-0 From 2009 forward there is a line item noting legal fees. It would appear that this line item was missing in years prior, yet we know the hboe had a full time employee and multiple legal fees, including an amost $1mm pay off to the old admin to make way for Raslowski. http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/board/budget/userfr.htm Also interesting is the cost of food service, and purchased services, per pupil, during those years. Seems food service costs were always a major boondoogle and have been getting better. It's a good read for facts/perspective- Total Food Services Costs-per pupil 2005-373 2006-174 2007-226 2008-213 2009-158 2010-0 (scroll from the bottom for easier reading). http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/board/budget/userfr.htm http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/User%20Friendly%20Budget%202011-2012.pdf
CuriousGal December 28, 2011 at 06:01 PM
pied piper- big numbers obviously mesmerize you like a child looking in the window of a candy store. Legal fees are for services---not for payouts. Point 1: Me nor other parents are especially interested in what happened in the schools 3 years ago, 5 years ago, or 20 years ago. Its time for the Zimmer backed Kids First group to be grownups and take responsibility. Point 2: If the district had an attorney on salary, the accounting for that in the budget is probably on a separate line item. My guess is they paid between $115,000-$135,000 for full time in house counsel. Not hundreds of thousands more ;-) Point 3: Legal reserve are funds set aside not necessarily expended. Maybe the district was self insured? I don't know. Again, too far in the past for me to really care about. Point 4: Food service-- Even more revealing is this excerpt from the 2010 Hoboken School District Management Report: "The food service management contract for the 2010/2011 year has guaranteed that the operations will at least break even. According to District management, the District has also implemented certain other cost reductions and increased food sales prices in an effort to reduce the deficit. Therefore, no recommendation is deemed warranted" Clearly, corrective action that was promised in 2010 never took place. The result, as the article in PATCH points out is that the 2011 Hoboken School District Audit Report indicates an additional $365,000 deficit in the food service program!
CuriousGal December 28, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Its easy to ask questions johnsmith-- but not playing that game with you. If you know the expenses of the 12 contracts, share it. If not, shut your trap.
johnsmith December 28, 2011 at 06:31 PM
"shut my trap"? Seems PP isn't the only one interested in numbers, as you post your share. I think context is important as those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Which is exactly what some want.
prosbus December 28, 2011 at 06:53 PM
You are correct johnsmith-- context is important. So here's some context to set the stage. The City Hall supported Board, Kids First, has been in charge for 32+ months. In that time, legal fees have skyrocketed, food service debt has ballooned, only 1 of the schools is now meeting federal and state standards, and the district this year has been officially designated a "district in need of improvement" for the first time ever. ANY reader of this thread or blog knows this but you STILL do not want your girls to take responsibility? Not repeat the past? Laughable-- -
johnsmith December 28, 2011 at 07:05 PM
well, we could return to the days when scores were hidden, legal fees were hidden or poor legal services were provided, bad food service contracts drafted by inexperienced administrators, money wasted and not getting to the clasroom and teachers were fired to pay for all the nonsense. Parents want that? THATS laughable.
pied piper December 28, 2011 at 07:32 PM
So- to recap:As a parent, you don't know what legal fees were prior to a certain date nor do you care. You have been shown that food costs have come down and don't care about that either. You also don't care that there were no new text books for 12 years nor that in the past 2 years there have been: (to name a few) smartboards added to every k-7 class laptops for grade 7-9 students foss science kits sitton spelling increase in hhs math classes (from 2 to 9 classes per week) School Day state mandated/approved gifted and talented program k-12 continuation and expansion of the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented after school program continuation of theater arts program districtwide staff development new curriculum implemented a highly experienced business dept hired a highly experienced legal firm contracted and for the first time in HBOE history an well accomplished, experienced superintendent hired all while losing millions in state funding and still providing the legally, lowest allowable tax levy. BUT you do care who zimmer backs. Got it.
pied piper December 28, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Sorry Probus, there were no legal fees prior to 09 noted in any boe budget. I noticed you say they have skyrocketed. What were those fees prior to 09?
pied piper December 28, 2011 at 07:42 PM
re:Point 2: If the district had an attorney on salary, the accounting for that in the budget is probably on a separate line item. My guess is they paid between $115,000-$135,000 for full time in house counsel. Not hundreds of thousands more ;-) Gagliardi's buy out cost close to 700k, which line item would that have been under? That certainly was hundreds of thousands more- and that was just ONE contractual legal fee issue. I think you need to do a lot more research if you would like to be taken seriously :)
pied piper December 28, 2011 at 07:55 PM
"The debt, Takacs continued, has been building for four or five years." Total Food Services Costs-per pupil 2005-373 2006-174 2007-226 2008-213 2009-158 2010-0 (scroll from the bottom for easier reading). http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/board/budget/userfr.htm http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/User%20Friendly%20Budget%202011-2012.pdf
CuriousGal December 29, 2011 at 01:37 PM
pied piper- your generous list of "accomplishments" is simply a gross example of hyperbole. The fact is the end result of this list is now a district designated as "in need of improvement" for the first time in its history. A district where over 90% of its students attend a school that has failed to meet state and federal minimum requirements and a district whose fiances are beginning to look increasingly questionable.
tburns December 29, 2011 at 01:44 PM
John - You paint a picture that is factually inaccurate. Scores are and have been required to be made public. Previously, legal services were in-house to control costs. Food Service was completely handled within the district prior to to the Chartwells contract. And with declining enrollment as well as the need to focus on academics, all Superintendents have eliminated positions. My argument against KidsFirst and their control of the Hoboken Schools is twofold: they present a delusional version of all things that they did not put in place as inferior and corrupt; and their actions have had a negative impact on education as measured by objective criteria. All the smartboards in NJ won't change that. KFers seriously need to learn to reflect critically on their own actions. Had they not been so defensive about their choice of Carter, his wackadoo at HHS and the half-dozen other buddies Carter freely gave your taxdollars, (live action items!!) perhaps Toback wouldn't have so much work to get the district back on track.
CuriousGal December 29, 2011 at 01:45 PM
pied piper- once again you are confusing legal costs with settlements, judgements, and buy outs. At the end of the day, the legal costs are more than 125% over the state average this year. 2009-2010: $126* ($277,000) 2010-2011: $160* ($336,000) 2011-2012: $91* (estimate) ($191,000) * According to the State of New Jersey guidelines and based on a state average $47 per student, legal costs should equal @ $84,600 for the Hoboken School District based on student population (All data obtained by open public records requested documents and information)
CuriousGal December 29, 2011 at 01:48 PM
From the 2010 Hoboken School District Audit Report: Finding 2009-3: Our audit revealed a year end deficit of $244, 992 in unrestricted net assets in the Food Service Fund. From the 2011 Hoboken School District Audit Report: there's a $365,000 year end deficit. The BA promised this would be "fixed" last year, correct? from the 2010 Hoboken School District Management Report: "The food service management contract for the 2010/2011 year has guaranteed that the operations will at least break even. According to District management, the District has also implemented certain other cost reductions and increased food sales prices in an effort to reduce the deficit. Therefore, no recommendation is deemed warranted"
ThisMeansWar December 29, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Lane Bajardi has never appeared in an ELEC report for Beth Mason or Tim Occhipinti. He appears in this midnight video for Occhipinti's campaign leaders. http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2010/10/grist-for-mill-midnight-monday-meeting.html Is he credited in Beth Mason's IRS filings? Does he credit her in his tax forms? http://www.fbi.gov/news/videos/inside-the-fbis-internet-tip-line
pied piper December 29, 2011 at 02:15 PM
New text books to replace 12 year old books smartboards added to every k-7 class laptops for grade 7-9 students foss science kits sitton spelling increase in hhs math classes (from 2 to 9 classes per week) School Day state mandated/approved gifted and talented program k-12 continuation and expansion of the Johns Hopkins Gifted and Talented after school program continuation of theater arts program districtwide staff development new curriculum implemented a highly experienced business dept hired a highly experienced legal firm contracted and for the first time in HBOE history an well accomplished, experienced superintendent hired all while losing millions in state funding and still providing the legally, lowest allowable tax levy Re: food service-$130k was from uncollected funds, 160k from capital improvements and the rest from years past all negotiated in a contract by your pal Raslowski. 130k is a lot less than 2005-373 2006-174 2007-226 2008-213 2009-158 Amazing that so much money was able to go directly to the kids with all of the cuts that the district received and still they provided the lowest tax levy allowable by law. Why weren't these initiatives and monies provided to the students in the years your people were in charge?
johnsmith December 29, 2011 at 02:35 PM
not factually inaccurate. Scores may have been made public but didn't include all the students, sounded fudgy to me. What is the point in "controling costs" for inhouse legal when it costs you more in the long run. Wasn't you who gave Super Gagliardi a new 5 yr contract then bought him out the very next year for over $700,000? Your Super eliminated TEACHING positions but somehow nothing else. You may not like smartbords, but I am glad the money is going to the teachers and students than to a few friends of yours and raias. why no answer on the loan to the charter school? did he really loan them money with interest only to get it back with a construction contract. sounds crazy. is it true?
CuriousGal December 29, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Sorry pied piper-- I have no "people"-- clearly you do.
Passkey December 29, 2011 at 04:28 PM
The purchase and installation of smartboards in a school district is certainly an interesting utilization of technology. But, it should not be viewed as some sort of panacea. Like many other things, success often hinges on effective professional development and support. The purchase and installation are the simplest aspects. It seems like pied piper and johnsmith are basically intellectual lemmings spouting the latest "talking points" in an uncritical and unreflective manner. Par for the course from what I can tell... However, here is a thoughtful even handed entry on the pros and cons of smartboards for those interested: http://www.science20.com/chemical_education/notsosmart_use_smart_boards-77463 Hopefully, the smartboards will be used in an effective and instructionally challenging manner that will lead to solid student learning gains- but it will not occur simply by installation and purchase.
tburns December 29, 2011 at 08:23 PM
So, tell me something JohnSmith - what would you have done? Keeping Gagliardi meant sanctioning his actions. You can't have it both ways. Gagliardi did many wonderful things as the Superintendent, but, yes, he lost my confidence. As for buying him out for $700k - that is another one of your fallacies. Gagliardi had a substantial sick bank that he had earned during his more than 40 years in the Hoboken Public Schools. While I was a member of the board, we began limiting sick back accruals so that future Boards would not face similar encumbrances. I am pleased that the Hoboken district is using Smartboards in the classrooms. My own district has been using them for about 6 years and they really hold students' attention. As far as friends of mine working for the Board - nope, just the opposite. When people asked about jobs, I referred them elsewhere. For most of my years on the Board, we had a RIF list that we had to draw from before anyone else could be hired. As far as Charter school financing - I do not go to their meetings. The majority of Hoboken students still attend the Public- non-Charter Schools and that is where my interests lie.

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