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Taxpayers blast Liverpool school board

Residents of the Liverpool Central School District packed into Room 410 at the high school last Tuesday night, each eager for an opportunity to respond to a report released by the state comptroller last month.

It was the board's first meeting since the comptroller's office released the results of an audit of the district revealing serious mismanagement of public finances.

Superintendent Jan Matousek opened the meeting by reading a prepared statement putting the blame for the issues criticized by the comptroller on the previous administration of John Cataldo, as well as suspended administrators George Mangicaro and Bonnie Ladd.

"It's unfair to blame this administration," Matousek said. "This board and administration have been diligent. We haven't hesitated to act, nor have we attempted to cover anything up."

But the residents in the audience weren't buying it.

"This happened on your watch," said Bill Smorol. "We can't forget that."

Neil Fitzpatrick questioned the board's ability to look at the issues objectively.

"I've read the report, as well as the district's response," Fitzpatrick said. "The differences are stark. The report itself is very professional and businesslike, but your response -- it jumped out at me how personal it was. I'm wondering if there's too much bad blood for this to be resolved."

Mike Azzolino agreed.

"All of my kids went to Liverpool," Azzolino said. "Every time I've been asked to vote 'yes' for something, I have. I've voted for every budget, every referendum. But I question this."

In particular, Azzolino asked why the board hadn't pursued legal action against the subcontractors who installed the faulty drainage system under the turf at the high school stadium. He pointed out that Barrett Construction, that subcontractor, was still in business, though the company that installed the turf itself is now defunct.

"I'm in construction, so I know how this works," he said. "Why wasn't the project bonded? Why aren't we going after them?"

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