Cocalico School District gets an “A” in accounting

By on November 18, 2015

 

In the final meeting for several members, the Cocalico School Board accepted a clean audit report at its Monday, Nov. 16, meeting that shows the district is in good financial shape despite looming increases in pension spending.

Trout, Ebersole, and Groff issued Cocalico an “unmodified” report for the 2014-2015 school year, meaning the district doesn’t have to make any immediate corrections or changes in its accounting practices. The firm did ask the district to keep working on a business continuity plan and use a different accounting method for its food service operations this year.

A new more business-like reporting requirement last year requires the district to state its long-term pension obligations, which increases liabilities. The district expects its payments to total more than $16.1 million through 2019, with contributions climbing each year.

So far, the auditors reported, the district has worked to “minimize the future financial impact” by setting aside $11,000,000 in year-to-year fund balances.

In other action, the board approved a $141,717 contract to upgrade phones and provide digital and paging service throughout all of its buildings. Sage Technology Solutions is expected to begin the project at Adamstown and Reamstown elementary schools and Cocalico High School within six to eight weeks.

Also on Monday, the board heard from several Denver Elementary School students who attended a grant-funded field trip to Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Berks County, this fall. Denver Principal Angela Marley said admission and bus fees were paid for by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Photos courtesy of Denver Elementary School. (From left)Denver Elementary students Maggie Muse, Logan Brubaker, Adison Martin, and Jillian Foote pose with teacher Becky Culbert before telling school board members about a recent grant-funded trip to Crystal Cave.

Photos courtesy of Denver Elementary School.
(From left)Denver Elementary students Maggie Muse, Logan Brubaker, Adison Martin, and Jillian Foote pose with teacher Becky Culbert before telling school board members about a recent grant-funded trip to Crystal Cave.

When students returned, they wrote letters or designed computer presentations about their experiences, according to curriculum requirements.

Logan Brubaker told the board he enjoyed learning “how they crystals got formed and people got married there.” If lights went out on tours years ago, visitors might have to stay in the cave for days, until help arrived.

“We thought this was crazy,” Logan read from his letter.

Jillian Foote used an app called Puppet Pals to share her favorite moments in a short film she called, “Rock Master: Crystal Cave Edition.” She drew characters, photographed them, then uploaded them and layered them over real photos. She then filmed action sequences with her puppets and added a voice-over.

Jillian Foote used the Puppet Pals app to draw herself and her teacher inside Crystal Cave in Kutztown, a multi-media extension of their physical field trip.

Jillian Foote used the Puppet Pals app to draw herself and her teacher inside Crystal Cave in Kutztown, a multi-media extension of their physical field trip.

Students Maggie Muse and Adison Martin also shared their excitement, a connection fourth grade teacher Becky Culbert said was critical to their social studies and science learning.

“My own field trips, they stick with me,” Culbert told the board. “To be able to experience, to touch it, to feel it, to listen to the sounds — these things are more powerful than anything we can tell them.”

At night’s end, Superintendent Bruce Sensenig and several board members praised colleagues who were leaving the board, most after many years of service.

Tim Zimmerman served 16 years. He had previously served as vice president and had long been Cocalico’s liaison to the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center.

Mary Waskowicz served eight years, and reflected on her long-time volunteer commitment to the district. Her son, Eric, was in kindergarten when she started spending time in the district’s schools.

Audrey Stoner is also leaving, She was appointed several months ago to finish out the term of Michael Messner, who resigned in April when he moved out of the district.

“We are losing 34 years of board experience,” Sensenig. “That’s a lot of expertise in understanding how our schools work.”

The board will reconvene for an organizational session at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. Randall Renninger, Juanita Fox, and Desiree Wagner are expected to be sworn in for new four-year terms. All ran unopposed earlier this month.

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