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Audit shows $600,000 budgetary shortage

-CORNELL- By Carrie Moniot

An audit report presented May 17 shows the Cornell School District was running a $600,000 deficit by the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Business Manager Patrick Berdine said the numbers show the influence of rising charter school costs and other unfunded mandates imposed on the district.

“Overall the audit went well with an unqualified opinion on the financial statements,” Berdine said. ”Unfortunately, we had expenditures exceeding revenues for the year and now have an overall negative fund balance of $600,000.”

Berdine said a tax raise imposed since last year is calculated to bring $290,000 in additional yearly revenue to close down the revenue gap. Beyond that, Berdine noted Cornell’s small tax base limits options for tackling longstanding funding issues, but he doesn’t fear the district is headed for financial recovery like neighbors Sto-Rox.

“With some hard decisions I am confident that we will be able to recover from our current deficit,” Berdine said.

In their report to the board, auditors from Hosack, Specht, Muetzel and Wood, LLP noted no irregular transactions.

In other news:

  • The board accepted the resignation of Head Track Coach Roger Kowal, Assistant Track Coach Sandra Kowal and Assistant Track Coach Courtney Parisi, and approved the hiring of Carlton Gardner as head track coach. The former coach has taken a job with another school, according to Superintendent Thomas.

  • The board also voted unanimously, with two members absent, to approve a $69,381.62 proposal from Hollowood Music & Sound to upgrade the sound and lighting in the school auditorium. The work is expected to begin this summer.

  • School officials say the Every1Online program is progressing, with Pittsburgh MetaMesh Wireless Communities continuing to install free wireless internet in homes throughout Coraopolis and Neville Island. According to Kristopher Hupp, director of technology and instructional innovation, Eger Eye Group on State Avenue agreed to install a relay on their building so four more homes could be served on Montour Street.


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