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Audit: Dover Area district overpaid thousands, state partially to blame

The Dover Area School District Administration building.

Dover Area School District was overpaid by more than $200,000 thanks to past financial errors by the district and the state, according to an audit released Friday.

The audit was one of four released by the state auditor general last week — with others in Allegheny, Butler and Columbia counties. Dover's audit covers July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2018.

Dover "complied, in all significant respects" to most financial procedures, according to a release from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's office.

However, state auditors did find three issues within the district's records. 

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First, the district incorrectly reported its Medicare and Social Security payments to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, leading to an underpayment of $24,308 to the state.

But the state Department of Education then mistakenly paid the district twice for Social Security reimbursements in 2018, resulting in the district receiving $267,491 more than it should have.

The underpayment by the district was due to a payroll omission in 2014 that caused employees to be incorrectly classified as existing versus new employees — who are entitled to larger reimbursements, according to the audit.

The district caught the error in 2018 after transitioning to a new financial system and was able to get the correct reimbursements for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

The Education Department has yet to confirm the overpayment, and the auditor general is recommending that the department work with the district on future reimbursements to recover the money.

Dover business manager Jennifer Benko said she isn't sure what funds have been repaid yet. 

"Those will count as due to the state in last year’s financial statements," Benko said. The state will draw from the district's transportation reimbursements to reconcile the money, she said.​

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In the second finding, the district inaccurately reported the number of students not eligible for transportation reimbursements from 2015-16 to 2017-18 — resulting in another overpayment of $13,070 to the district.

Dover also did not have proper documentation for reimbursements in 2014-15. 

The third finding involves a discrepancy with district reporting of fire drills and failure to do a drill each month as required by the school code. 

For both the transportation reimbursement errors and the fire drill discrepancy, district officials said it came down to lack of proper training and software transitions. 

Dover has since taken steps to resolve these issues, including appointing a full-time transportation coordinator in 2018-19.

On Monday, Dover district officials  did not immediately respond to requests for comment.