Hinsdale District 86 eyes more efficiency and controls with new financial software

<p>Hinsdale District 86 Administration Building. | Sun-Times Media File </p>

Hinsdale District 86 Administration Building. | Sun-Times Media File 

Hinsdale High School District 86 will purchase new financial software to improve the efficiency, controls and integration of its accounting and personnel departments.

The District 86 School Board last week approved a contract for $140,366 with Tyler Technologies for its Infinite Visions financial management software and installation, plus travel and expenses. The district also will pay $28,866 a year for maintenance and support as of the second year of the contract.

The district has been using the same business software since 1995.

District 86 with its feeder districts, Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 and Maercker Elementary District 60, evaluated software programs that integrate accounting functions and personnel records.

The three chose to convert from the different software each was using to Infinite Visions. By combining their purchases, Districts 86 and 181 saved 23 percent off the cost, and Maercker saved more than 30 percent.

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.

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” and increase their productivity.

Mary O’Connor, partner in Sikich, went even farther and said, due to the lacks of checks and balances in the district’s current methods, “I would have very little confidence in your 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.

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 that 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.

The consultants and Maniscalco also support district officials’ plan to hire a new chief financial officer, a director of financial controls and a purchasing supervisor should address the deficiencies.

School Board member Richard Skoda appreciated hearing their assessment at the State of the District Committee meeting Feb. 12.

“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 by each school.

District 86 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.

The committee discussed whether it was advisable to review past financial records or simply move forward implementing the changes.

O’Connor said the primary reason she would recommend a “look back” would be to verify the accuracy of the information on which the district budget is based.

“You don’t know that the money you spent should have been spent,” O’Connor said.

Accounts payable, payroll and student accounts are three areas she recommends checking.

0 Comments

Do you have the scariest house on the block? Or the cutest kid in costume? Share your Halloween photos with us! Click here to submit them.


Modal