Hinsdale High School District 86 is planning to purchase new software to improve accountability, consistency and productivity in its business and personnel departments.
The School Board is scheduled to vote on a contract with Infinite Visions Software at its meeting a meeting today, Feb. 13.
Domenico Maniscalco, District 86’s director of human resources, said the limitations of the current software are the biggest problem he has encountered in the district in the three months he has been in his position. The staff cannot produce reports that would have taken five minutes to print out in the previous district he worked, Maniscalco said.
Russ Holbrook, a consultant with the Chatfield Group, told the State of the District Committee Feb. 12 that if he were going to make only one recommendation it would be to purchase new software right away.
“It interferes with the perception of the effectiveness of your staff,” Holbrook said. “That would free them up to do higher level (human resources) work.”
Mary O’Connor, a partner with the accounting firm Sikich, went even further and said, due to the lacks of checks and balances in the district’s current methods, she would have little confidence in the budgeted numbers.
The new software, combined with the hiring of additional staff in the business department, would establish the separation of duties that general accounting principles recommend to help prevent mistakes and potential fraud.
School Board President Claudia Manley said it’s a credit to the staff they are able to do their jobs as well as they do.
“It speaks to the quality of the people we have here,” Manley said.
The district’s outside auditor, Jason Coyle, a partner with Baker Tilly, said the problem is a single employee could input a new vendor or employee into the system, input transactions related to their employment or products, and cut the check to pay that party.
“There is some review, but not as much as we would like to see,” Coyle said. “There should be a firewall between those (steps).”
Coyle has reported the shortcoming in previous annual reports to the School Board, but also noted the situation was not uncommon in school districts with relatively limited staffing in the business department. He also said other school districts use the same software District 86 has.
The consultants and Maniscalco agreed hiring a new chief financial officer, a director of financial controls and a purchasing supervisor should address the deficiencies.
Board member Richard Skoda, who serves on the State of the District Committee with Manley, appreciated hearing their assessment.
“This board has been criticized for sandbagging the district with new administrators,” Skoda said. The new employees, however, will not only improve financial controls, but also could result in savings if the purchasing of supplies and equipment is centralized in the business office, as opposed to being handled at the school level.
Maniscalco also said there is a lack of consistency with stipends. He said there are more than 500 different ways stipends are paid to employees supervising clubs and athletics. And there are four to five different methods of how you calculate a stipend.
Some stipends are paid to staff members who no longer are coaching a team or sponsoring a particular club.
“I did get calls from teachers who said they were being overpaid,” Holbrook said.
Maniscalco said he has sent lists to the athletic director and director of student activities for them to verify the positions and who holds them.
Superintendent Bruce Law said there will be an increase in oversight and accountability.
“It’s not that the buildings weren’t doing what they were supposed to, they would do it and just send it upstream, . . . but we had no way to verify (the information submitted,)” Law said.
O’Connor and Maniscalco also favor district control of all the vending machines at both campuses, rather than allowing different clubs or teachers and parent groups to handle the stocking and collecting money from various machines.
“We’ve had this honor system here,” Maniscalco said. “I think they are stocking (them) well and they are using the money appropriately,” but the age of the machines and who is operating them are too varied.