Taylor Releases Columbus City School District Audit

Items Worth $3.7 million Missing; $2.8 Million in Federal Funds Questioned

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Columbus -

State Auditor Mary Taylor released the annual audit of the Columbus City School District for fiscal year 2006 today. The report identifies more than $3.7 million in missing furniture and equipment and questions the spending of more than $2.8 million in federal grant funds. The report also cites the district for misspending $16,000 and seeks to have the money returned.

A review of the district’s capital assets identified 3,167 items missing from department inventories valued at $3,728,095. That amount includes $438,947 in equipment purchased with federal grant money. The items include computers, furniture or other equipment. The district has since written off the losses.

“While the district has a policy in place to track the movement of capital assets from department to department, some administrators are not following the policy,” Taylor said. “The lack of oversight has resulted in more than $3.7 million worth of equipment that can’t be located. This is unacceptable considering those items were purchased with taxpayer dollars.”

The audit also questions how the district spent $2,864,429 million in various federal grant funds. Taylor says school administrators must increase oversight and accountability in the management of federal grant funds.

“It is crucial that school officials implement strict policies and procedures for documenting federal grant money,” Taylor said. “The failure to do so could result in misspending, theft or the loss of future funding.”

The audit cites the district for charging $1,410,888 in employee pay to the special education grant fund in fiscal year 2006 for work performed during fiscal year 2005. Federal regulations prohibit current fiscal year charges to the fund from prior fiscal years.

Other costs questioned in the report include:

  • $796,863 in overspent federal grant funds relating to math and reading education
  • $555,445 in improperly documented adjustments for employee pay to the special education grant fund
  • $86,103 in additional special education funds spent outside of the allotted grant period
  • $15,130 in undocumented charges to various federal grant funds

Federal grant costs are questioned when administrators do not follow federal regulations, spending rules listed in the grant agreement or when expenditures lack proper documentation.

District administrators have submitted a corrective action plan to address the management of federal grant funds. Responses to each questioned cost are listed in the report.

Taylor also issued findings for the recovery of an additional $16,000 in public funds the district misspent. The findings include:

  • $8,151.68 in health insurance premiums paid for employees who did not qualify to receive benefits
  • $7,497 in salary overpayments to a contracted company managing the district’s voluntary separation plan
  • $227.20 in improper charges for personal phone calls made on district owned cell phones
  • $137.74 in improper food and beverage purchases made with public funds

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest public accounting offices in the nation.  The Office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).

A copy of the full audit is available online at http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Columbus_City_School_District_06-Franklin.pdf.