June 21, 2018
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Audit spotlights previous problems in Newport-area school district

Alex Barber | BDN
Alex Barber | BDN
RSU 19 Superintendent Greg Potter
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — Regional School Unit 19 Superintendent Greg Potter said nothing surprised him after seeing an auditor’s report for the district’s previous school year.

The report prepared by Brantner, Thibodeau and Associates of Bangor was presented at Tuesday night’s RSU 19 board of directors meeting at Nokomis Regional High School.

The board also approved the warrant for a special budget meeting and $2.9 million loan budget validation referendum.

Brantner, Thibodeau and Associates noted three areas where the district has ineffective internal control and one area in which it has a significant deficiency.

The report stated the district had ineffective internal control over budget preparation and billing, financial reporting and compliance with laws and regulations. It also said RSU 19 had a significant deficiency in internal control over reporting of federal awards.

“There weren’t any surprises to us,” said Potter, who became the district’s superintendent on July 2. “We’ve been dealing with these issues for several months. We were pretty aware of what issues we were going to have.”

He added that many problems highlighted in the auditor’s report have been addressed.

The school district is facing a $3.6 million budget shortfall resulting from an overestimate of the fund balance carryover and failing to bill member towns — Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans.

The auditor also reported that RSU 19 exceeded its authorized budget by $213,504 during the 2011-2012 school year.

The district will ask its towns to approve a loan that will help the district get through the rest of the school year. A $3.6 million loan was shot down by voters in November.

RSU 19 will have a public meeting at Nokomis Regional High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, regarding a $2.9 million loan. The district made $750,000 in cuts after the first loan validation attempt failed last month.

At the public meeting, residents of the eight towns again will be asked to allow the loan to be advanced to referendum.

The loan validation vote will take place on Jan. 15.

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