Tue October 11, 2011
Audit Shows Improvement In KCMO School Finances
By Sylvia Maria Gross and Kayla Regan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new audit of the Kansas City Missouri school district shows a significant improvement in the district's operations and finances. The audit was requested in 2009 and looked at the district's expenditures and operations until June, 2010.
The report showed that the district is not always bidding or monitoring contracts and spent large, unaccounted-for sums on student incentives, and food at district events. It's paying millions to maintain 38 closed schools, and surplus property is not being tracked or sold. Some workers were paid excess amounts of overtime, and the audit targeted the $800 dollar-a-month car allowance paid to former superintendent John Covington.
Still, auditor Tom Schweich said the district has made significant progress in many of these areas, and he gave an overall rating of "fair."
"I think if we had done this audit a year ago it would have been a poor, and based on the improvements we're seeing going forward it probably would be a good or better, " Schweich said.
The audit found one instance of fraud. Former Lincoln High School principal Jamia Dock has already been indicted for withdrawing $ 58,000 from a student activity fund in 2009. Dock was removed from her position, but currently works at the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus, one of the district's contract schools.
Schweich also says the school board was holding closed meetings without giving a reason, and that board members are not required to recuse themselves from votes on contracts in which they have a financial interest.
But the report showed that the district's financial situation has finally stabilized.
"The school district's balance which had been going down every year is actually going to increase this year. You're going to end this school year with more money than you started and we think a positive cash flow is a very good sign," Schweich said.