Taylor, Legislature Work to Increase Financial Accountability of Ohio’s Community School System

Provision Requires Charter Schools to Get Finances in Order or Lose Funding

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Columbus -

In a joint effort to increase oversight and accountability within the state’s community school system, State Auditor Mary Taylor commended legislators in the Ohio House of Representatives for approving a new plan to address deficiencies in record keeping on the part of certain community schools.  The plan requires state funding to cease immediately if a charter school fails to submit proper financial documents to conduct an effective audit. Taylor worked with House Speaker Jon Husted to seek passage of this plan as part of the state’s $52 billion biennium budget.

“Charter school officials who fail to account for every tax dollar are threatening the success of all others,” Taylor said. “Our office is working hard to promote fiscal accountability in Ohio’s community schools.”

House Speaker Jon Husted says the plan is part of a comprehensive approach to strengthen oversight within the state’s community school system.

"These provisions will continue to improve accountability and quality in Ohio’s charter schools," Husted said. "The ultimate goal is to further strengthen the system and provide reliable, fiscally sound academic options for students and parents across the state. I’m pleased with the progress we have made thus far and I look forward to continuing our progress -- both fiscal and academic -- in the school choice movement."

The plan requires the State Auditor to notify the school’s sponsor and the Department of Education when a charter or community school fails to submit documents showing how tax dollars were spent. If financial statements and records are not brought into an auditable condition, state payments to the school will stop.

The measure also prohibits a school’s sponsor from opening any additional community schools while their finances are considered unauditable. Once the situation is corrected, payments to the school will resume. The State Auditor’s Office declares a public organization unauditable when officials fail to submit complete financial statements and other documentation needed to support an annual audit.

Passage of the plan follows Taylor’s recent announcement that her office will provide a new statewide training program designed to strengthen financial operations and fiscal oversight of the state’s community schools. The program will include a series of regional workshops held around the state this summer and will offer financial, accounting and compliance training to school sponsors, administrators, fiscal officers, board members and management companies.

Taylor is continuing to develop a comprehensive plan to increase oversight and accountability in the state’s community school system to help ensure that these educational options are available for Ohio families in the future.

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest 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).

For more information about the Auditor’s Office, please visit: www.auditor.state.oh.us.