By Kellen M. Quigley

The Ellicottville Central School Board of Education received a positive audit of the district’s 2018-19 year finances at its regular Tuesday meeting with a presentation by Keith Carrington and Danna Isaman, auditors from Buffamante, Whipple, Buttafaro, PC.

Isaman said ECS was issued an unmodified opinion in the audit, which is the highest level opinion the school could receive, which is very good.

As part of the audit, Isaman said they identified one instance that is considered a material weakness, which is that Buffamante, Whipple, Buttafaro put together the financial statements.

“We do have one instance of non-compliance, and that has to do with the unassigned fund balance being in access of 4 percent,” she said.

In the district’s long-term government statements, including capital assets and long-term debts, Isaman said both assets and liabilities decreased last year and there was a positive surplus. In expenditures, she said it was in line with previous years, showing a small bump in general revenues.

In the general fund, assets and liabilities are both up. Isaman said in the assets, the biggest driver in the increase was an increase of the cash balance. For the liabilities, there was a rate increase for both the retirement funds and salaries.

For revenues in the general fund, Isaman said the year ended at about $12.4 million. She said the increases for revenues is primarily due to increases in property taxes. For expenditures, there was about a $300,000 increase, due partly due to increases in general support and instruction, such as salaries and BOCES services.

Carrington then went over the food service fund in the district. He said the total assets increased overall, due in part to an increase in cash. He said the total liabilities also increased, but for the second year in a row, the school’s total fund equity increased.

Revenue was down last year, Carrington said, due to an unusual, one-time transfer from the general fund in order to fund some purchases in the cafeteria.

The federal resources slightly increased, Carrington said. Although there was an increase in federal reimbursement rates for school lunches, the participation at ECS decreased, which balanced it out. Additionally, Carrington said the sales were down because there is no longer a GED program at BOCES.

For 2017-18, there was a net income of about $48,000, but that’s down to $25,000 for last year. Carrington said that it also increases the district’s total fund equity, which is a nice trend to see for the school’s lunch program.

In special state and federal funding, Carrington said state revenue is down, but federal revenue is up. He said there are a few programs in the district that received funding.

In the audit’s management letter, Carrington said they had a couple of recommendations for the district, including monitoring a few different accounts so they equal out at the end of the year. Another recommendation was to look at extra-curricular activities to decide which are more part of the school’s operations and which aren’t. Carrington said how the district accounts for its leases of busses will also slightly change in 2020.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, Superintendent Bob Miller gave is report to the school board, saying there is a lot going on for the start of the school year but not too much to report.

“The beginning of the school year is always so busy. There’s just so many things going on,” he said. “It’s been a very smooth start to the school year.”

Miller said the district recently met with the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce concerning the upcoming lacrosse tournament weekend. He said the staff will be helping line the fields and will have chaperones and maintenance staff on hand during the weekend.

“Hopefully everything will work out smoothly as it has the past two years,” he added.

For athletics, Miller said the transportation of individual students participating in sports at other school districts this year has gone well.

In her report, Elementary Principal Maren Bush said the elementary school is having a great start to the year. She said they have a program tracking how kids are doing in math and reading and they will have a meeting in October to discuss which students may need extra support.

The elementary school received book donations talking about various topics, such as friendship, staying safe and helping others, among others. Bush said several local Ellicottville-area organizations and businesses donated the books.

Finally, the school has a character appreciation wall where students who demonstration of the character trait of the month will have their picture put up on the wall, Bush said.

In the high school, Miller reported for Principal Erich Ploetz, who said the parking lot situation seems to be working well so far. Miller said they may run out of spots for students by half-way through the year, but Ploetz is working on alleviating that on a regular basis.