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New procedures for small facilities projects

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 7, 2017) -- The City School District of Albany is putting in place additional procedures for evaluation and implementation of small facilities projects following an independent audit of a classroom renovation.

 

The audit determined that the district inadvertently classified a theater classroom project at Albany High School’s Abrookin Career and Technical Center as routine maintenance rather than a formal capital project.

 

The project involved the upgrade of an unused classroom at Abrookin into instructional space. The project began in June 2015 and was completed in early 2016.

 

During that time the scope expanded to include new electrical wiring, panels, stage lights, and student-constructed stage and seating risers. As a result, the project cost increased to approximately $131,000. The auditors found no evidence that any district funds were missing or misappropriated. 

 

“It is important to note that the independent audit found that all district employees involved in the process were credible and forthright with their explanations of what occurred, and were acting in good faith to meet a long-standing student instructional need that had been identified as a priority by leadership of the district and Albany High School,” the board said in a statement on the auditors’ review.

 

Click here to download the board’s entire statement.

 

The auditors noted that the district has completed significant capital work – more than $250 million – throughout the district over the past decade “within the law and without issues.” The audit determined that the district leadership and facilities-management team is “competent and capable.”

 

“The issue in this one specific project was its initial classification as routine maintenance not subject to SED review as a capital project, and a lack of effective communication and centralized decision and control during the process to alert decision-makers at the senior administrative and board levels that the project had grown beyond its initial intent so that a reassessment could be made,” the board said.

 

The district closed the space in June 2016 pending State Education Department review. State Ed inspected the space in July 2016 and directed that the district correct code violations before the space could be used.

 

The district completed that work during the summer and the space reopened as a theater classroom at the start of the current school year, with State Ed approval. 

 

The Board is working with the interim superintendent and assistant superintendent for business affairs to implement the recommendations of the audit, and to review and improve procedures to prevent any such lapses from occurring again.

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves more than 9,600 students in 17 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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