Troubles continue for Kansas City Public School System

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Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In another blow to Kansas City Public Schools, which were stripped of their state academic accreditation last month, the district received the second worst rating possible for financial management.

In a report released on Tuesday, State Auditor Tom Schweich rated Kansas City Public School’s as “fair” when it comes to financial management, meaning the district has problems in several areas that need to be addressed. However, the auditor did optimistically note that the district has been making progress since the review was completed last year.

Among the problems highlighted by Schweich, the district continues to pay $2 million annually for utilities and insurance on 38 closed schools. Although an employee was recently hired to coordinate and managed the repurposing of closed schools, up until now, the district has not maintained a complete list of, and has not regularly disposed of, surplus property.

The audit examined the school’s business operations over the course of a three year period ending on June 30, 2010. During that time, Schweich said the district did not always competitively bid or effectively monitor contracts. Cost benefit analyses were not performed to determine how to best provide some services.

During the same three year period, the auditors also found that Kansas City schools spent nearly $2 million on student incentives and $2 million on food and meals on non-travel status students and employees that were not properly documented.

The auditor also recommended that immediate action be taken to detect any errors or theft related to unauthorized cash withdrawals by the former principal of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. A lack of adequate controls over the fund allowed the administrator to withdraw roughly $58,000 in 2009.

Although Schweich said the district has shown recent signs of improvement, including actions to reduce expenditures in order to stabilize its financial condition, the report adds to the recent bad news the district has faced.

At its September meeting, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to revoke the district’s academic accreditation, starting Kansas City Public Schools on a path that could end in a state takeover if academic standards are not met within two years.