MO Auditor: KCMSD can't account for millions in tax dollars - KCTV5

MO Auditor: KCMSD can't account for millions in tax dollars

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Tom Schweich Tom Schweich
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Kansas City School District can't account for millions in tax dollars, a state audit found.

The district could not account for $4 million in food costs and student incentives, repeatedly failed to competitively bid projects and monitor contracts, has excessive overtime and failed to properly oversee its closed buildings, the audit found.

The state audit said a principal at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy made $58,000 in unauthorized purchases and cash withdrawals. Jamia Dock is no longer at the school and has been charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with stealing more than $25,000 in district funds. She has pleaded not guilty and the case is still pending.

The Kansas City School Board was also faulted for repeatedly violating the Missouri Sunshine Law.

Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich released the completed audit Tuesday. The school district received an overall grade of "fair."

Then Auditor Susan Montee released the first part of the audit in 2010.

Some of the most scathing criticism came in tracking money.

In a three-year period ending June 30, 2010, the district spent nearly $2 million on student incentives, including gift cards and electronics. Another $2 million was spent on food and meals "purchased while not on travel status." But the audit found the district "does not maintain adequate documentation to support the disbursements."

Schweich said there is no accounting for the food expenses.

"There was a lot of money being spent on food," he said. "There is not an adequate monitoring of who was at those meetings and why all this money was spent on food."

Schweich also suggested that a $800 a month car allowance for the superintendent is too high. Former Superintendent John Covington received this. The interim superintendent, Steve Green, uses a district vehicle and does not have a car allowance.

In addition, $2.6 million in supplies from closed schools are unaccounted for as well.

"The KCSD does not maintain a complete list of, and has not regularly disposed of surplus property," the audit found.

The district pays $2 million annually for utilities and insurance on 38 closed schools. Inadequate tracking of expenses meant the district paid to lease 11 copy machines that weren't in use.

The audit found the district did not always competitively bid contracts and some amendments were not in writing. Some contracts were not signed.

The board repeatedly failed to document votes to closed meetings to the public and the reasons under the Missouri Sunshine Law that private discussions were needed.

"It appears closed meetings were not limited to the topics allowed by law," the audit found. "Also, board members did not always abstain from voting when a conflict of interest existed."

The board admitted last month that board members violated state law in discussing and taking action on board officers in closed session rather than in open session.

The district pays excessive overtime and steps to correct this issue have not always been enforced, the audit determined. One janitor had an annual salary of $41,000 but made $86,000 in overtime over two years.

In response to the alleged theft by the Lincoln Prep principal, Schweich recommended that the district "perform timely bank account reconciliations to detect errors or theft promptly."

School Board President Airick West said the loopholes the audit pointed out have been closed.

"There were inadequate financial controls in previous years," he said. "This administration for the past year and a half has decisively addressed those and handled them effectively."

"This administration" would refer to Covington who left Kansas City for a job in Michigan. Covington blamed differences with West for one of the reasons he was searching for a new job.

The interim superintendent said the district now has more rigorous controls.

"Parents can be assured that we'll be more vigilant," he said.

To view the complete county audit report, click here.

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