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Budget Commission Approves School Finance Controller Hire

Tricia Mallozzi recommended by review committee comprised of city, school, state officials.

 

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.

nimrod September 21, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Although it's a good thing,it's another knee-jerk,too little too late reaction from clueless politcians that lack the foresight to see past the next budget.
DR September 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
It seems it would make more sense if Bruce was in charge of both the school and city finance departments-give him an assistant(an intern student from URI or Bryant) and pay him more he is worth it.
Rob Borkowski (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Hey, DR - The Budget Commission, city officials and the school department appear to be setting something like that up already: http://patch.com/A-xxrV
John September 21, 2012 at 05:12 PM
DR, School Finances are far more complicated than the city side of finance due to grants, title I, title II, outgoing tuition and tuition coming in. This was also proven when they tried to transfer City Finance Director Robert Strom from the city side to the WED and he failed miserably.
DR September 21, 2012 at 06:40 PM
John I am sure under the supervision of Mr Bruce a couple senior intern students from URI could run the department.
John September 21, 2012 at 08:15 PM
DR, The last 3 Finance Directors have failed.....just saying
David T September 22, 2012 at 03:46 PM
John, did a very smart man named John once say he could have submitted a school budget, "under duress" in 2 weeks? This was while he was criticizing how long it was taking the superintendent to submit a budget. Well, she finally has a someone with the know-how to actually do the work for what IS a VERY complicated budget. But I hope Mr. Bruce and the Mayor and the City Council and the Budget Commission will never allow things to go unchecked again. Don't you think the school dept should have a full time TEAM of people working on that bear of a budget?
Steve September 22, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Why doesn't the WED quit playing games and out source the budget activities to a reputable accounting firm and get this done with once and for all? Give it to a company that actually knows what their doing. This has been going on now for what, five years now, and there appears to no end in sight! First 67, then 69, then 60, then back to 69, and now 66 million? Good god, how can anyone run a system like this, especially when the tax payers are on the line for any deficits? And what ever happened to the request for the state to take over the school system? NOTHING, all we hear is crickets............. Great reps. on the state school system side (RIDE) right? At least we're owed a response one way or the other, but no, just push it under the rug until this coming Feb. when the whole house of cards comes down again! Laughable to say the least, a crime to say the worst! Like I've said in the past, May I have a hamburger today, if I can pay you tomorrow.........? Well, eventually tomorrow will come, and gee, I can't pay....... So sad, the City of Woonsocket deserves better, and all we get is the same old process..........
David T September 22, 2012 at 09:15 PM
To come up with a total dollar amount for the coming school year is only an educated guess. You either over estimate by a lot and have a surplus, which I don't think ever happens here, or you underestimate and at the end of the year go to the city for money and or lay off teachers in June, which is what usually happens. It's as difficult to do as trying to figure out a year ahead exactly how much money you will spend on gas for your car. So if you come up with a good guess based on last year's miles traveled and the ever changing price of gas going forward, what would you do if in the 3rd or 4th quarter you spent that gas budget? Not drive to work? Not drive to the store? Of course not.
DR September 23, 2012 at 01:26 AM
John maybe your right and it is more complicated than I think . Steve brings up a good point also about being outsourced. I feel the City should be in control of income and spending not two different departments where the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. I mean this is not rocket science other cities don't seem to have a problem. I do not know how qualified the other 3 Finance Directors were but they were hired by the School Committee which does not care about financial matters- that could have also been the problem. For the last 3 years 66 million seems like the amount the school department needed- why would anyone think it could run on less without cuts?
DR September 23, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Steve good point on the outsourcing-that way the city could send the contract that includes an independent audit ( bonded to cover the city) out for bids. I doubt RIDE would take over the school system unless they were forced to do so such as last May when we ran out of money and instead just closed the schools. I said it before RIDE needs a major overhaul-look at their track record in running the Central Falls School System for the last 20 years.How are those test scores?
Still Hope September 23, 2012 at 02:27 PM
A while back, Sandy had posted a table of previous budgets going back to 1996. IIRC, the budget for 1997 was around $74M. When adjusted for inflation, this is equal to over $100M in today's spending! The student population hasn't changed much since then, the cost of everything has gone up, and stricter standards have been mandated by the State and Fed. This year's budget: $66M. Officials have done a pretty decent job at stripping the city schools to bare-boned operations. Budgetarily, there is not much else to control. The job from here on out is to staff the classrooms, turn the lights on, bus and feed the students. The money comes in, the money comes out. Keep a solid ledger. Get back on our feet and show the people that we can at least manage the money. Then maybe we can ask for more, so we can manage the students. Imagine what we could do with that extra $35M from back in the day?
Steve September 23, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Still Hope, your numbers make no sense. There is no way they were running a budget of 74 million in 97. Over the last 8 to 10 years, the student population has gone down by about 500 students and the school department was and has been running a budget around 63 - 64 million. I have posted all this information in prior posts, and all this information is available on line at the RIDE web site. Check your numbers..
John September 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM
DR, What you are forgetting is that the City Counsel took the school committee to court to make them fit a 66 million dollar budget into 59 million. The school committee or past finance directors had no say in that, the judge agreed with the city counsel and told the school committee the city was not responsible to fund education. Then when the spending went over 59 million due state mandates and not enough things to cut the city counsel did the political thing and said they couldn't understand why the school committee turned in a 59 million dollar budget....that they forced them into!!
John September 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Steve, The 63-64 million dollar number you speak of does not count the Federal Dollars. With the Federal Contribution it is has been a 74 million dollar budget. Woonsocket gets between 10 and 12 million each year from the Feds but it is never in the local number that is discussed.
DR September 25, 2012 at 03:25 PM
John what I was trying to say is the school dept. has been running on 66 million the last 3 years and the city expected the school dept to run on 59 million.No cuts were made but the mayor and council were surprised to see a 7 million deficit.Why be surprised? You can't make cuts in the middle of the school year and its going to take more than cuts to get several million you need concessions also. Looks like the judge was wrong because the city is responsible to fund education.
Donnie September 25, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Employing College Students to do a highly trained and experienced PROFESSIONALS job had to be the dumbest idea I've heard since the square wheel. If you honestly believe that college students with no knowledge of complex governmental accounting principles could handle the job of a controller, then you need some serious mental counseling. Everyone loves to complain about paying for things we need while our country continues to deteriorate. Let me guess you people expected hope/change and voted for Obama too.
Steve September 25, 2012 at 09:34 PM
John, as far as I know, the 66 million dollar budget includes local, state and federal funding. If there's other funding that is not included in the 66 million, then why has the WED agreed to a 66 million dollar budget and why is this the number going forward? If you’re saying the real budget is 74 million, please clarify, because obviously the WED can't........

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