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Sunday, November 27, 2022

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PUSD facing $1.8 million fine following audit

Members of the Parlier Unified School Board learned during the Sept. 13 school board meeting that the district is in a deficit of $58 million and will be required to pay a $1.8 million penalty related to senior student enrollment and attendance numbers.
“The long term debt is what is making that appear in your deficit position,” said Christina J. Zakarian, CPA.
Zakarian is part of the audit firm hired to review the district’s finances for the 2020-2021 years.
“There were large increases in long term debt health insurance for retirees” she said. “That liability increased by almost 30 million.”
Zakarian pointed out that the largest change was a result of the “Other post-employment benefits” or OPEB benefits.
OPEB benefits are benefits, other than pension distributions that employees may begin to receive from their employer once they retire. These types of benefits can include life insurance, health insurance and deferred compensation.
The penalty was due to an unmet enrollment requirement for students in grade 12.
“One of those requirements was that all students were to be offered and enrolled for a minimum amount of minutes each day to then be able to count that day for a day of instruction,” she said.
“The minimum amount of days of instruction that should have been offered 180 days.”
Zakarian noted that during their audit process, there were some 12th grade students who “were not offered / enrolled for that minimum amount of 240 minutes a day.”
Other findings through the audit were teacher, instructional staff salaries.
“California’s Education Code states that a unified school district shall expend 55 percent of the districts total educational expenses for the current year on payment salaries for classroom teachers that was not met,” Zakarian said.
Following the audit presentation, board members shared their thoughts on the findings.
“I am concerned that we didn’t spend enough money for our teachers,” said trustee Martin Mares.
“Violation at the high school, that concerns me, somebody is not completing their task and we’re not meeting our state guidelines and Obviously we see some areas of incompetency, some of the folks didn’t do what they were suppose to be doing that is of great concern to me, that we didn’t take care of business.”
The district plans to appeal the penalty and also approved a correction plan for the findings and the penalties.

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