CLAREMONT — Paperwork failures are again costing the school district that serves Claremont and Unity, this time with the Internal Revenue Service putting SAU 6 on notice for a $320,000 fine.
“This is not the only financial issue we have had in recent months,” said outgoing interim Superintendent Cory LeClair.
LeClair said she became aware in the past several weeks that the district’s business office had not been complying with federal filing requirements as part of the Affordable Care Act for district employees. A letter from IRS officials informed the district that is is now looking at a $160,000 fine for failing the filing requirements, and an additional $160,000 for failing to provide full-time district employees with specific forms required by the ACA.
LeClair has engaged legal counsel to assist with the issue, but said the $320,000 figure may not be the end result. That number could potentially grow, as more paperwork failures could be discovered.
“It’s not determined, completely, what we will have to pay,” she said.
District schools lost out on more than $360,000 in federal lunch money reimbursements over the past two years because paperwork wasn’t filed on time.
The assistant superintendent for SAU 6, Cory LeClair, is heading down the road to Cornish and Plainfield to take over the top spot for those districts.
LeClair said she has seen indications that district officials knew about the problems in the months before she discovered the issue. District Business Manager Michael O’Neill is no longer employed by the district, LeClair said, having left his post at the end of April. He was the business manager during the relevant time period, according to LeClair. The district is currently searching for a replacement for O’Neill.
Earlier this year it was learned that another paperwork failure was costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding for the lunch program. This is the second year in a row the district lost out on the lunch funding because application deadlines were missed. The resulting losses were $150,700 for the 2017-18 school year and $188,300 for the 2018-19 school year for Claremont, and more than $11,000 each year for Unity.
LeClair is leaving Claremont this year, and taking over the split superintendent’s position for the Plainfield and Cornish school districts. Michael Tempesta, a Massachusetts education professional, is starting this summer as the new superintendent. LeClair hopes to put a structure in place for Tempesta to have a functioning business office.
“We want to get these things cleaned up and to where they should be,” LeClair said.
In February, Keith Pfeifer, who was the interim superintendent at the time, was the cause of a panic alarm being set off at the district offices when he reportedly refused to leave following some kind of issue with staff. Pfeifer has since resigned as part of a settlement agreement with the district. Last year, then-Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin was forced out after a dispute with the board over the district budget.