State Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen just released his review of Fayette County Public Schools and it’s not a great situation.
Take a look at some excerpts from his accompanying press release:
Auditor Adam Edelen on Wednesday released a special examination of Fayette County Public Schools, finding chronic mismanagement of the district’s budget and finances that have contributed to its financial instability.
Auditors did not find any evidence of alleged criminal activity; however, they determined that poor financial management, weak policies and failed communications culminated in a weakened financial position for the district.
Auditors identified salary and perk disparities between administrative and educational staff, excessive travel and training within one department, violations of the procurement process and other board policies, potential conflicts of interest, and other concerns.
Auditors found that the budget director did not become aware of certain financial transactions in a timely manner, which led to her establishing a budget that reflected $20 million more than the district actually had to spend. The financial transactions made by the finance director were not illegal, but auditors question whether the availability of the money was purposely hidden from the school board and public.
Auditors found a lack of transparency when management altered the district’s salary schedules. Unlike in past years, for the 2013-14 school year management did not highlight significant changes to administrative pay when it presented the schedules for board approval. The administrative additive was increased from $36,726 to $63,299. Auditors noted that over a four-year period, the average pay increase for high-ranking administrators was 24.7 percent, while the average teacher pay increase was 9.88 percent.
Auditor Edelen noted that there are currently 11 FCPS teachers asking for money to buy basic supplies for the classrooms – most of which are in high poverty schools – on a national crowd-funding website.
Auditor Edelen is particularly troubled by the use of a trust fund left to the district by a deceased FCPS teacher for the “enhancement and enrichment of the educational program.” The district can use the interest and up to 10 percent of the principal each year. The fund balance was over $1.1 million as of June 30, 2014.
The district paid for the director of financial services to receive his superintendent certification. Subsequent to this examination, he refunded the full amount to the district.
Auditors also found that management circumvented controls and violated its procurement process to contract with a vendor that provides college preparation services. (Finding 4) The contract is a potential conflict of interest, but auditors were unable to determine that the superintendent benefits directly from his relationship with the vendor’s CEO. Auditors identified other possible conflicts of interest in the district during the examination. (Finding 7)
As you can see, some rough stuff. But nothing nearly as terrible as Edelen attempted to hype up. Time for some major changes in Fayette county, though.
- Weaknesses In Budget And Financial Management Processes Led To Significant Errors In The District’s Working Budgets
- The FCPS Working Environment Is Not Conducive to Efficient And Effective Operations
- Administrative And Management Salary Increases Outpace Other District Employees, Some Without Appropriate Transparency
- FCPS Circumvented District Controls And Did Not Follow Procurement Guidelines
- The Mary K. Stoner Trust Fund Is Not Being Used In Accordance With Its Charter
- Travel And Professional Development In The Department of Financial Services is Excessive And Often Unnecessary
- Conflicts of Interest: Vendors are providing perks to district personnel which could compromise the procurement process.
- Monthly Financial Reports To The Board Lack Significant Information
- Accounting Weaknesses Within the Department of Financial Services
- The Current FCPS Internal Audit Structure Needs Improvement
Can you imagine what would have happened in Montgomery County if Edelen had done his job there instead of ignoring major impropriety, hundreds of thousands in no-bid contracts, nepotism galore, misuse of funds, Title IX violations, illegal financial arrangements, yadda yadda…? Can you imagine?
It’s a shame he and his staff willfully ignored what was handed to them. Instead, he’s focused on Fayette and Jefferson Counties because he wants to drive up his name ID and get in front of as many future voters as possible.
So, when you’re reading this audit — click here (Warning: PDF Link) for a copy of it — just remember that this is merely one of many school districts that are in turmoil. While the audit was necessary, it’s just a mess of picking and choosing and other scandals involving just as much money have gone ignored because they’re in small towns.
And if you’re in Lexington? Time to start kicking ass at school board meetings like they’re doing in Montgomery County.