Peralta Trustees Delay Safety Report, Look at Finances

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday April 27, 2007

The recent Virginia Tech University mass shooting tragedy has led to widespread discussion and debate across the nation about school safety. 

At this week’s Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees meeting it led to a postponement of discussion. 

The board had been scheduled to hear a presentation on disaster preparedness by district Risk Manager Joanne Baldinelli, but a notation in the board’s agenda said that “in view of the recent events at Virginia Tech and an ongoing evaluation of Peralta’s campus security measures, the report will be expanded and presented at the May 8, 2007 Board meeting.” 

At the same meeting, board members heard a report on the outside audit of the district’s finances for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, which auditor Heidi White, representing the Vavinek, Trine, Day & Co. called “very tough” and Peralta CFO Tom Smith said was the “hardest audit I’ve been involved with in my career.” 

Both White and Smith credited the difficulties to its occurrence during the transfer over to the district’s PeopleSoft computerized management system. 

“PeopleSoft conversion is difficult under the best of circumstances,” White said, “and you probably didn’t have the best of circumstances.” White said that at some points reconciliation of the books had to be done manually. 

The audit found no irregularities, saying that the district’s financial statements “represent fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Peralta Community College District,” which White called an “unqualified opinion.” 

Board President Bill Withrow said that the unqualified opinion issuance by the outside auditors “is not just esthetics. It could have great, favorable impact on our quest to get additional money for the district.”