Light and dark blue squares with Arkport logo. Text reads Arkport News

School districts are required by New York State law to conduct an independent local audit of their financial statements each year. For the school year which ended June 30, 2023, the Arkport Central School District engaged the certified public accounting firm of Buffamante, Whipple, Buttafaro to conduct the required audit.

District administration selected BWB for this responsibility because of their vast experience conducting financial audits, not only for school districts but for businesses of all sizes, across a variety of industry categories. BWB conducted a thorough and extensive audit to provide a comprehensive representation of the district’s finances, detailed well beyond what administrators and the board of education have received in past years. 

Audit report: unmodified opinion

The audit report issued by BWB expressed an unmodified opinion, which states that the district’s financial statements are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for governments and school districts. An unmodified opinion is also known as a clean opinion. 

Reestablishment of a budget fund balance

The budget fund balance is the end-of-year surplus in the general fund. This surplus can be due to lower expenditures than anticipated and/or greater revenues than projected, which may accumulate over time, resulting in savings for the district. By New York state law, the maximum amount of unassigned fund balance in a given fiscal year cannot exceed 4% of the following year’s budget. The Arkport Central School District has reestablished its 4% fund balance.

There are four ways a budget fund balance can be used:

  • Assigned: budget fund balance is set aside to pay year-end bills

  • Appropriated: an amount of the budget fund balance is designated to lower property taxes

  • Restricted: the budget fund balance is set aside to pay for legally allowed types of expenses

  • Unassigned: subject to a 4% limit, this amount of the fund balance can be used as a contingency for emergencies. Unassigned fund balances are comparable to the personal finance scenario of maintaining an emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses in the event of unforeseen job loss or another catastrophic event.

Suggestions included in the audit report

Along with the unmodified opinion, the audit report contained a few suggestions for the coming school year.

While ACS has reported strong earnings in the first year of running its cafeteria program, the report indicates that a secondary review of meal counts prior to submission for NYS reimbursement should be implemented. The district agreed and created a process to verify claims prior to submitting to Child Nutrition; this procedure was put into practice in September.

Additionally, the audit report indicates that some of the federal COVID-19 funds provided to school districts are winding down. With the end dates for these funds approaching, it was recommended the district should ensure the funds are fully expended, while also determining the impact of not having this funding in the future. Arkport administration, during summer 2021, had created a yearly plan to distribute and spend down these funds, which is being carried out. The district is on track to fully spend its pandemic funds before the start of the 2024-25 school year. Through strategic planning, the district will maintain operations after these funds have sunset by decreasing expenses and/or shifting expenses to fund current positions and programs with local funds.

The unmodified opinion of the audit and the reestablishment of the fund balance are the result of a successful fiscal plan implemented by district administration. What’s more, they further prove the point that the designation of moderate fiscal distress by the New York State Comptroller’s Office in January 2023 was an exception to Arkport’s finances.

22-23 Arkport Audited Financial Statement

22-23 Arkport Final Extraclassroom Audited Financial Statement