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Ocean City’s School District Receives “Clean” Audit

first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiOcean City’s school district is well managed and in strong financial shape, according to the results of an annual audit presented to the Board of Education on Wednesday night.The audit came out “clean” and uncovered no negative findings, said Michael Garcia, a partner with Ford-Scott & Associates LLC, an Ocean City accounting firm that conducted the financial review for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016.“This is a clean audit report this year. No findings or recommendations,” Garcia told the school board. “That’s not an easy thing to do. There are numerous rules and regulations that the state and feds impose on school districts.”Garcia went out of his way to praise the school district’s business administrator, Tim Kelley, and his staff for the results.“To have a clean audit is a credit to the entire district, but especially the business office, Mr. Kelley and his staff,” Garcia said, prompting applause from the board members.The audit showed that the district’s general fund ended the year with $43.5 million in revenue, an increase of about $2.2 million over the previous year.Most of the extra revenue resulted from an increase in tuition payments from the neighboring towns that send their students to Ocean City’s schools. Altogether, the sending districts paid Ocean City $12.6 million in tuition, Garcia said.Local taxes are the largest single source of revenue for the school district. Tax revenue totaled just shy of $22 million, about the same as the previous year, the audit found.Reflecting the district’s financial strength, it finished the year with a surplus of nearly $1.5 million, Garcia said. He noted that the surplus will help to fund the district’s 2016-17 budget.Despite the clean audit results, Garcia raised concerns about the district’s money-losing cafeteria fund. For the year, there was a $77,000 cafeteria deficit, which was partially offset by a $75,000 subsidy from the school district.Garcia urged the board to find ways to avoid a future deficit in the cafeteria fund, either by boosting revenues or cutting expenses. He said a turnaround should not be expected in the next year, but is possible within two or three years.The deficit primarily resulted from an approximately $42,000 decline in cafeteria revenue, mainly because fewer students are buying their lunches, Garcia explained.Kelley told the board that the district is reviewing the lunch programs at the high school, intermediate school and primary school to find out the cause of the revenue decline.Joseph Clark, the school board president, said there have been no complaints made to the district about the quality of the cafeteria food. He noted that the school board members also eat in the cafeteria to sample the lunches.School board member Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes is questioning why fewer students are buying cafeteria meals.One school board member, Cecilia Gallelli-Keyes, questioned whether more students are simply bringing their lunches to school instead of buying cafeteria meals.“Are the kids not liking what’s being served?” she asked. “Are they packing their lunches more?”In another presentation on Wednesday night, the board was told that Ocean City’s students are exceeding both the state and national averages for standardized testing, including the PARCC, SAT and Advanced Placement exams.Curt Nath, the district’s director of academic services, said Ocean City High School’s graduation rate also is much higher than the state average. For 2016, the graduation rate was 95.2 percent in Ocean City, compared to about 84 percent statewide, Nath said.For the SAT tests in 2016, Ocean City’s students had an average composite score of 1,577 for English, math and reading, compared to 1,501 for New Jersey and 1,484 nationally. Ocean City’s SAT scores are also trending upward in the past five years, compared to declines at both the state and national levels, Nath reported.In an interview after the board meeting, Nath said the district is pleased with the student test results, but “will not rest on its laurels” as it continues to strive for academic excellence.“The fact is, doing well is a nice piece for us,” he said. “While nice, it’s not the end of the road.” Michael Garcia, a partner in the Ford-Scott & Associates accounting firm, reported no negative findings in the audit for the school district.last_img read more

Gift Cards

first_imgGift cards make great gifts, but it’s important to make sure gift givers understand the disclosures that come with the card. Otherwise, they could end up giving retailers the unintended gift of free cash.Gift cards are a type of stored-value card. They look like a credit card; they have a magnetic strip that stores information about how much the card is worth. Some cards can only be used at one retailer or only at stores in a particular mall or shopping center. Others can be used anywhere major credit cards are accepted.The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 makes giving gift cards a better option than was the case before the law. The act established rules to protect consumers from excessive fees charged by some retailers and banks.Money on gift cards is available for at least five years from the date the card is purchased. Value added to a gift card must be good for five years from the date the money was added. If the card expiration date is reached, but there is unspent money on the card from the past five years, a replacement card can be requested at no charge.The law requires clear disclosure of any fees at the time of purchase. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before making your purchase and send them along with the gift card to the recipient. Include the receipt in case the card is lost or stolen.The law restricts maintenance and usage fees. A fee cannot be charged for using the gift card, not using the gift card, card maintenance or adding value to the card unless the card has not been used for more than 12 months.Tips to Keep in MindUnderstand how gift cards work. Choose cards from specific retailers over cards offered by financial institutions. Cards that can be redeemed wherever credit cards are accepted tend to come with more and higher fees.Watch for hidden fees. There may be a charge to check the balance of the gift card, even in the first 12 months, so be sure to keep track of how much is spent. Watch for delayed fees that kick in if the card has not been used for 12 consecutive months.If a gift card is lost or stolen, it may not be replaceable. Some retailers charge a replacement fee, provided there is proof of purchase, such as a sales receipt, and the ID number of the card.Registering received gift cards with the issuer provides extra protections. Information about how to register the card should be included with other card details. If not, check the website of the issuer for information about how to register the gift card. Some issuers will not replace lost or stolen gift cards unless they are registered.Use the card promptly. About 10 percent of gift cards are never redeemed. Unused gift cards are a gift to retailers of more than $9 billion a year.last_img read more

3 ways to deal with your holiday debt before it gets out of control

first_img 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Christine DiGangiI was at the gym the other night when I overheard a man talking about how much he spent on Christmas gifts this year. I learned a lot about the guy: He loves to shower his mom with gifts, he bought an engagement ring he no longer plans on using, and he’s got a lot of credit card debt to pay off. It’s amazing the things people talk about within earshot of strangers.While he was certainly aware of the thousands of dollars he had to pay in credit card bills, he didn’t seem too troubled by it. It sounded like he planned to finance the holiday purchases all along, but I wonder how much thought went into that strategy, given how long it can take to pay down credit card debt. If you have high credit card balances after the last several weeks of shopping, you might want to plug your information into this credit card payoff calculator and see how much you need to put toward those bills each month to get debt free within a few months, or whatever your debt-payoff timeline may be.Of course, as I listened to this guy talk about the $1,500 he spent on his mom, I couldn’t help but think of questions I wanted to ask him about his plan for tackling that debt and the tips I would share with him, based on his responses. Because it’s generally considered strange and rude to join strangers’ conversations about personal finances, I’ll settle for writing this blog post.If you’re the guy who walked into the Michigan Avenue Gucci store and bought a pricey bag to prove a point to the seemingly snooty staff, this one’s for you. continue reading »last_img read more

Ranked teams meet as No. 16 Michigan State hosts No. 22 Penn State

first_img Associated Press BIG MEN ON CAMPUS: Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman has averaged 13.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocks while Cassius Winston has put up 17.4 points and 5.5 assists. For the Nittany Lions, Lamar Stevens has averaged 16.5 points and seven rebounds while Myreon Jones has put up 13.8 points.FACILITATING THE OFFENSE: Winston has accounted for 44 percent of all Michigan State field goals over the last three games. Winston has 22 field goals and 12 assists in those games.WINLESS WHEN: Michigan State is 0-5 this year when it scores 66 points or fewer and 16-1 when it scores at least 67.STREAK SCORING: Michigan State has won its last eight home games, scoring an average of 82 points while giving up 57.9.STOUT STATE: Michigan State has held opposing teams to 37.4 percent shooting from the field this year, the lowest percentage among all Division I teams. Ranked teams meet as No. 16 Michigan State hosts No. 22 Penn State February 3, 2020center_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNo. 22 Penn State (16-5, 6-4) vs. No. 16 Michigan State (16-6, 8-3)Jack Breslin Student Events Center, East Lansing, Michigan; Tuesday, 8 p.m. ESTBOTTOM LINE: Two ranked teams meet as No. 22 Penn State visits No. 16 Michigan State in a Big Ten showdown. Penn State has three wins and one loss against ranked opponents this season, while Michigan State has won two of its three games against ranked teams. ___For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25___This was generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.comlast_img read more