Auditor Yost Releases Report on Community School Sponsorships
Columbus – A special audit of community school sponsorships released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost highlights the need for increased sponsor oversight of schools as part of community school reform legislation pending in the Ohio General Assembly.
“Today’s report underscores Ohio’s need for real reform in our community schools,” Auditor Yost said. “The legislation pending in the General Assembly is a step in the right direction to increase accountability and transparency in our broken system.”
The Auditor of State’s office received information concerning allegations of insufficient monitoring and oversight at certain community schools sponsored by the St. Aloysius Orphanage (SAO), North Central Ohio Educational Service Center (NCOESC) and Warren County Educational Service Center (WCESC). Several of these schools either failed to open or were suspended. At the time, new schools were permitted to receive state funding in the summer, prior to opening, based on the schools’ estimated enrollment. The information was considered by the Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force, and a special audit was initiated on January 14, 2014.
The special audit reviewed the organizational structure and operational relationships among sponsors, start-up and/or conversion community schools, management companies and other organizations that provide services. Auditors selected schools from each of the three sponsors and found no evidence of any improper interest in a public contract that was prohibited by law or any payments contrary to contractual relationships. However, the report recommends the legislature examine current statutes governing the organizational and operational relationships between schools, developers, sponsors and management companies.
The report further recommends the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Department of Education establish defined roles and responsibilities, as well as minimum objective academic and financial standards, for sponsors to evaluate proposed schools. The current pending community school reform legislation would require increased sponsor oversight and monitoring.
Auditors also examined a total of $3,727,830 in expenditures by the sponsors’ schools. Of that amount, auditors noted $27,315 in unsupported disbursements and $4,802 expended for purposes unrelated to school operations by schools sponsored by NCOESC. Findings for recovery in the total amount of $4,802 were issued against two community school directors.
A full copy of this report may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.