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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."

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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