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When’s the last time your school fund was audited?

Do skinny teachers make kids smarter?  How about computer programs as teachers?  Or maybe even the crazy saltwater fish tank for a class that never even happened?  These are but a few of the national school fund mismanagement stories across America.  As taxpayers we consistently demand increased funding for schools but where is it going?

In Mississippi, lawmakers provided $1.5 million dollars to teachers to join the Weight Watchers program.  It’s generally the poorest state in our union. Unbelievable but true. Instead of siphoning more money to stock trading classes for high schoolers to stop the vicious cycle of poverty-they think skinny teachers is the way to a bright student.  The theft of school funding was undetected from 2010-2016. If they had an annual audit, teachers may have not been the healthiest but students may have received more and better classes.

How many of you have a computer program that you never use?  Maybe you paid an obscene amount of money for it and maintenance but never even use it.  That’s exactly what happened in Fort Worth, Texas.  The public school system paid $2.7 million for hardware, software, and maintenance of a computer program that was never used.   The best part is it took seven years for the mismanagement to be uncovered. Again, an annual audit would have saved these taxpayers dollars from idleness.

Just a couple more to drive home the mismanagement.  In the Santa Barbara school system, a part-time executive director spent $20,000 on equipment for classes that never occurred-a $10,0000 saltwater fish tank, $6,000 in robotics and $4,000 in cameras.   This wasn’t uncovered until a whistleblower employee finally revealed the “theft”.

These acts of mismanagement which here we will call theft of public funds could be controlled and reversed by annual audits.  Each school district in America should require that school funding is managed by a state-regulated non-profit audit company. Why non-profit?  Non-profit companies charge less than their corporate brethren. A simple audit of a small company begins at $10,000. That’s simply one CPA whereas a school district, depending on the size, will need a team of CPAs and a staff lawyer.  The average audit for schools in cities with populations at  250,000 or less is about $20,000 a year. That may seem like another hefty fee to add into the school budget but let’s remember what is saved.  

School fund audits should be well organized.  If there is a small school district the teachers and management staff should have separate funding and expense files throughout the year.  The file should include the purchase, where the money was extracted and how the purchase provided quality to the educational endeavor. This rule should be a local ordinance regulated by the municipal government and indoctrinated into the school funding ordinance and rules.  The local people must ensure this is completed by promoting this idea at their local municipal governance meetings, speaking to their school staff and principals. The more we the people know about school funding the more we can help our own children and students succeed.

Last but not least, the audit needs to be posted as a public document with a public hearing on the results.  For example, the Fort Smith schools audit is a public PDF available for anyone to read and understand. The audit company provides a synopsis of their procedure, an in-depth review of the funding and liabilities discovered in the audit and possible methods of amending any fiscal mismanagement.  Unfortunately, putting people on what we now call “blast” may be the best option for saving money.

If we the people want to match our funds to our educational goals for our future to be brighter as a family unit to a nation, we must match the budget to the results.  The local solution is the best solution since it’s easiest to control your immediate environment. Next time you bring the teacher a gift, don’t make it an apple make it a budget book.  

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