Port school district looks into error over state transportation aid

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Paul Schreiber High School students in the Schreiber Symphony perform for the district's Board of Education as a thank you for continued arts funding. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

The Port Washington school district is investigating an administrative error that could affect the state aid it receives for transportation, the president of the Board of Education said Tuesday.

In a brief statement, the president, Karen Sloan, told the board that the error by the district could be significant.

“It’s come to our attention that there is an issue with it, and we are exploring exactly what it means,” she said. “It won’t affect whether or not we have buses. It won’t affect our transportation. It will affect our finances.”

In the 2016-2017, the district spent $5,432,201 on transportation, with the 2017-18 budget rising to $5,570,064.

Sloan did not elaborate on the possible error.

School Superintendent Kathleen Mooney would not comment on the error or how much state aid the district received, a spokesman said.

On Tuesday, the board also received the results of an audit of the district’s finances, and the news was good: the district received an unmodified opinion on its financial statements.

“It is the highest level you can receive, and it is a level you are accustomed to receiving,” said Tricia Lucas of D’Arcangelo & Co. LLC, which carried out the independent audit.

The audit examined the district’s finances through June 2017.

One area that will continue to receive funding is the school’s arts programs. As a thank you for the continued funding, Paul Schreiber High School music instructor Anthony Pinelli had his Schreiber Symphony perform “America the Beautiful” and a few songs from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” before the the meeting began.

During public comment, there were again calls for the school district to make the Hindu festival of Diwali a school holiday. The holiday will be held on Oct. 19 this year, too soon for the board to make it a school holiday. But a couple of community members, including one second-grade student, asked for the holiday to be included in next year’s calendar.

A report also showed that enrollment was up slightly in the school district. As of Oct. 11, there were 5,564 students, 23 more than the same time last year.

Board member Dave Kerpen reported that the first meeting of a task force to seek business sponsorships for the district was “extremely promising” and encouraged any parents in the attendance to join.

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