The Woonsocket Budget Commission approved the hiring of Tricia Mallozzi as the School Department's new financial controller Thursday afternoon.
The apparently inadequately executed duties of the financial controller position, resulting in the lack of accurate tracking of School Department spending, has been blamed for much of the disarray of School accounts.
In March, City Finance Director Thomas Bruce told Woonsocket Patch the school department had not balanced its checkbook since last July. Business Manager Stacy Busby left in Februrary after it became clear the surplus she'd assured officials of was actually a deficit. The city's $15 million cumulative deficit, according to City Finance Director Thomas Bruce, comes from a previous $8 million deficit and a roughly $7 million deficit projected for the current year, on the school department's books.
That level of understanding was arrived at after months of work by the School Committee and a series of private and state auditors. During those efforts, many people looking at the School Department's books, including School Committee members and state officials, remarked the record of school spending was often puzzling.
Mallozzi is tasked with changing that going forward.
"Ms. Mallozzi was recommended to me by the initial interview committee comprised of City Council President John Ward, City Finance Director Tom Bruce, School Committee members Mrs. Eleanor Nadeau and Mr. Chris Roberts, Human Resources Director Kathy Lombardo and Interim School Finance Director Ralph Malafronte. I, along with Carolyn Dias, Chief of Fiscal Integrity and Efficiencies at the RI Depeartment of Education, also interviewed Ms. Mallozzi," said Schools Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan.
Mallozzi is a graduate of Bryant College, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a minor in applied statistics. "Since 2005, she has worked in increasingly more responsible accounting positions as an accounting assistant, senior accountant and audit associate," Donoyan said.
Mallozzi most recently worked as an audit associate for LGC&D, CPAs of Providence from Aug. 2010 until now. Prior to that she worked as a senior accountant for Ashley, Brown & Company, CPAs of Punta Gorda, Fla., from Oct. 2005 till Jun 2010.
Mallozzi will be paid $72,000 per year, with her vacation time and benefits to be determined at a later date by the School Committee.
Budget Commission Chairman Bill Sequino expressed concern that Mallozzi's benefits and vacation were not yet ironed out. Budget Commissioner Mayor Leo Fontaine noted that other recent hires had been made without those elements of their employment decided, including two principals.
Peder Schaefer made a motion to approve the hire, which was seconded by Fontaine and approved by the Commission. Mallozzi will be on a six-month probationary period.
Commissioner John Ward offered his opinion on Mallozzi. "Anything that I learned in my interview with her led me to believe she is a highly qualified candidate," he said.