According to Gongwer (subscription only), Progress Ohio, and this article in the Canton Repository, Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor found “financial reporting irregularities, bad bookkeeping, misrepresentation of financial statements, and outright fraud at some community schools operating in this state.”
FYI: Here’s the ORC provisions that outline the state auditor’s authority and expectations (for performing the auditor job).
Why do charter school personnel need the training that Auditor Mary Taylor is quoted as saying will be provided?
Specifically, why do charter school personnel need training sessions that will “…better inform fiscal officers on regulations for record retention and financial reporting. The sessions will also cover: audit preparation; compliance; grant restrictions; budgeting; and reporting requirements of the state’s K-12 database collection, the Education Management Information System (EMIS).”
Why do charter school operators not already hire individuals who can do all that, who know all that? Ohioans voted for an auditor who stressed her CPA as being relevant and valuable. Why on Earth are Ohioans satisfied to let millions and millions of dollars go to charter schools that cannot meet financial recordkeeping needs?
Next: I’m glad that Audtior Taylor feels “…compelled to offer community school officials the tools they need to appropriately account for every tax dollar they receive.”
But does she also feel compelled to contact the Attorney General and report the breaches? Does she also feel compelled to have a legislative liaison report all this to the Ohio legislature and say, enough – you need to create and demand and ensure better oversight of charter schools?
Apparently, according to Gongwer, the auditor’s office already works with “…the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Association of School Business Officials on yearly fiscal training and accountability issues for traditional schools.” The legislature created charter schools, aka community schools – why wasn’t such a parallel connection for fiscal training and accountability issues for community schools created at that time?
This issue always causes me to lament how the Legislative Office of Education Oversight was shutdown by the legislature in 8/05.
Next: It’s common sense that an auditor would want to keep costs of the training low, but I don’t know why this would be a voluntary program and why she would only “encourage” broader participation, although the ORC sections about auditor training programs may be a constraint on making them mandatory. Still, any community school that she finds to be in trouble should be required to attend, though of course I can’t figure out why or whether they’re required to hired personnel who can perform their jobs in the first place so that the training isn’t needed.
Before a ton of anonymi show up saying that charters live by a double-standard because they get closed if they don’t perform and yet public schools never close schools, that’s a specious argument and you know it so don’t bother – unless you can prove what you’re saying rather than repeating rhetoric. My blogger bandwidth is going to be met someday I assume and I’d prefer it be saved for real debate.
Finally, the specific response by Taylor to what she found will be summer offerings in a State Community School Training Program. In addition to keeping costs low, the Canton article says, “Depending on how effective the workshops are, Taylor said she may expand their availability to public school officials.”
Huh? Either school personnel need the training because they don’t know what they’re doing or what to do. Or they don’t need the training. What is this thing about no training for public schools unless the training is effective with the voluntarily attending charter school personnel? I just don’t get that – maybe more explanation would help? (there’s nothing on the auditor’s site yet about the program)
Okay – sigh. Have fun. Tell me what is right and what is wrong in this picture.