Lynbrook district crunch numbers on the way to win two financial awards


Lynbrook Public Schools were awarded the International Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting and the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

The Association of School Business Officials International presented the first award, and the Government Finance Officers Association gave the second award. The GFOA award is the highest form of recognition in  governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. ASBO International’s award recognizes districts that have met the program’s high standards for financial reporting and transparency.

The district received the GFOA award for 11 consecutive years and the ASBO award for nine consecutive years. The recent awards that the district received were based on the 2022 to 2023 school year.

Joel Press, assistant superintendent for finance, operations, and information systems, acknowledged the finance team that contributed to the district receiving these accolades including Emilia Pinello, payroll supervisor; Patricia Jung, senior accountant clerk; Linda Gillespie, treasurer; Sylvia Byrne, junior accountant clerk; Janine Koicim, principal typist clerk; and Paula Jaegers, senior accountant clerk.

“I’m new here and the award is based off of the 2022 to 2023 school year, which I was not here for,” Press said. “(The finance team) were here for it and they did, and continue to do, all of the work.”

Press explained that every year, external auditors look over a sample of the district’s financial activity. After they review the schools’ finances, they issue their findings. In this case, the auditors found no issues with the record and declared an “unmodified opinion.”

“When you have an unmodified opinion, that means that the auditors have not found any material issues with the audit and that’s the highest level opinion that you can get from an auditor,” Press said.

Press said that the auditors declaring an unmodified opinion is “not usual,” but he explained that when the finances are done diligently, like they are in Lynbrook, the auditors will not find anything.

The findings in this report gave the district a green light to apply for these awards. Along with an unmodified opinion, the district needed to be very transparent with their records to receive these accolades. The information submitted to these GFOA and ASBO included tax levy data and debt service over the last 10 years.

“And they also want to see that the information we’re providing is in compliance with the generally accepted accounting principals,” Press said.

The basis of these awards, Press explained, is providing a clean audit. He emphasized that the district wouldn’t have been able to provide this without the work of the finance team.

“A lot of our information in financial statements is related to accounting,” Press said. “And Sylvia does our accounting and makes sure that the books are —”

“Meticulous,” Sylvia continued.

Press said that all the people on the team are very meticulous and this is needed to receive an unmodified opinion. He noted that the buck doesn’t stop at one person. Everyone on the team works together, going through multiple steps to review the finances and make sure that everything is accurate.

“We all work together,” Pinello said. “And we don’t do it for the accolades.”

Press noted that he is grateful for the team, which has been able to bring financial transparency to the district for 10 to 20 years.

He plans to continue this trend in the upcoming school years.