Comptroller: Greene school made leave accrual errors

Mar. 2—The state Comptroller's Office said the Greene Central School District didn't properly calculate some of its employees' leave and separation payments.

According to a media release, auditors examined school business records from July 1, 2018 through Nov. 30, 2021 to determine whether district officials ensured that leave accruals were accurate and payments for unused leave and separation payments were authorized and calculated correctly, and found that the district did not.

According to the audit, district officials:

—Made errors in 76% of district employees' accrued leave calculations.

—Incorrectly calculated 61% of the unused vacation leave, sick leave and retirement incentive payments made during the audit period.

Leave accruals are the time off earned by employees that are part of collective bargaining agreements, and contracts should clearly state what each employee is entitled to, the report said. Time off earned and used needs to be documented and reviewed before it's submitted to the payroll department, the audit said. Earned time should be credited, deducted and/or carried forward in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements or contract provisions.

According to the audit, the district has eight collective bargaining agreements and two contracts with personnel of the district. Each agreement or contract figures paid leave differently, so auditors decided to audit all 331 employees' records.

During the audit period, the district was also converting from manual to computerized entries of employees' leave accruals, the audit said.

Auditors said they found errors in 76% of the accruals, resulting in 251 employees' leave balances being credited either for 132 days over what they were entitled to or 2,712 days less than what they were entitled to.

"A significant amount of the 1,816 sick days underearned were a result of learning how to properly implement the new system, designed to track leave accruals, which was not crediting 10-month employees with sick leave at the beginning of the school year," the audit said.

In addition to not figuring leave accruals correctly, the district did not calculate pay correctly when people left their job at the district, the audit said. Of the 38 payments totaling approximately $270,000 auditors reviewed, 23 had errors totaling $8,530, including $4,900 in payments for unused vacation leave which were not authorized by the employees' collective bargaining agreements, the audit said.

Auditors recommended the district should follow the agreements and contracts; should develop and adopt written policies and procedures for monitoring payments, should consult with legal counsel to seek recovery of overpayments from employees and pay the ones who were underpaid, and should ensure all current employees have the correct amount of leave accruals.

Greene Superintendent Timothy Calice responded to the audit and said the district is developing a corrective action plan. He also said while the audit was taking place, the district was converting from the paper system to the computerized system of tracking employees' time off, because it knew the paper system was "antiquated."

He said all new contracts and agreements include language about leave accruals.

Calice said the district consulted with an attorney about the overpayments and the attorney said, "due to the small amount of money involved, any legal action to collect the money would be more expensive for the District than the debts."

He said employees who were underpaid will be paid if the district has current contact information for the individual.