PTO at Poland to repay $3,700

By Rick Rouan

POLAND — The school district treasurer will review the Poland Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization’s finances and recommend a repayment plan for more than $3,700 the state auditor said the organization kept illegally, the treasurer said at a meeting Monday night.

Last week, the Ohio state auditor issued a finding for recovery against the PTO for more than $3,700 that it collected through athletic-ticket sales to middle school events in the 2008 school year.

Lori Diorio, PTO president, has said that the athletic department had asked the PTO to sell tickets in exchange for keeping half of the money collected.

The money, according to the audit, should have gone directly to the school district to comply with state law.

Ohio law defines a finding for recovery as the state auditor’s finding that “public money has been illegally expended, public money has been collected but not been accounted for, public money is due but has not been collected, or property has been converted or misappropriated.”

Now, the district is working out a repayment plan to propose to the group, school district Treasurer Don Stanovcak said.

Stanovcak said he received the organization’s financial information Friday and could have a repayment plan laid out by next Monday’s school board meeting.

The PTO collected money for the athletic events as late as fiscal year 2009, Stanovcak said, but the athletic department now pays somebody to fulfill that duty. The district is now in fiscal year 2010, which began July 1.

Once he presents the repayment plan, Stanovcak said he will turn over control of the situation to the middle school principal.

To pay back the $3,700 as a lump sum would bankrupt the PTO, which had about $2,000 in its general fund in 2007-08, Diorio has said.

“I believe what happened was well-intended by all parties,” said Eleanor Zedaker, a school board member.

Board members also questioned why the financial miscue had not been caught earlier.

“The auditors never go over each and every item,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Zorn said.

Zorn said that every ancillary group, such as the PTO, is not part of the annual audit. Instead, the auditors spot-check specific groups each year, he said.

As a former auditor, Stanovcak said that auditors do not approach audits with the expectation that something is wrong and often rely on sources to tip them off to problems.

Still, the administrators agreed that the middle school principal in charge when the agreement began should have caught the error. That principal is not the current principal of the school.

The auditor’s finding for recovery also incorrectly states the fund that should have received the athletic-ticket funds. According to the report, the Poland Local School District’s Principal’s Fund should have received the money, but Stanovcak said it should have gone to the athletic department.

The board will discuss the audit again at its Nov. 23 meeting.

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