State audit critical of Columbus City Schools

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The audit of the Columbus school’s 2007 fiscal records says the district has not corrected many of the problems identified in a 2006 state audit.

The 2007 audit questions the use of more than $900,000 in grant money. State Auditor Mary Taylor says the district did not document whether the grant money was properly spent.

“Without knowing in each particular building why amounts were spent over the allocated amount, there’s no way to know for sure what population of kids are not being served or what percentage of dollars should’ve been spent in other buildings to make sure the right students are being served,” she said.

The grant money was used for math, reading and other programs.

In addition, the audit found the district still cannot account for more than 1 million dollar’s worth of furniture, an issue in last year’s audit. Columbus Schools’ spokesman Jeff Warner says the district is working on a new barcode tracking system that will take two years to complete.

“It’s not that they’re missing,” he said. “They’re not in the location they were originally purchased for. And as I said, as we have opened 14 new schools across the district in the past two years those schools have had to move a number of times. New furniture has been brought in for the new schools, new equipment, and in may instances, new computers.”

Warner says he attributes the results of the audit to tougher standards than past years. He says issues that may have been less significant in the past were more treated more severely this year.

“We have implemented a number of systems to improve the district’s operating and financial system and that would actually be reflected in our audit if we were operating under the old standards,” he said.

A spokeswoman at the state auditor’s office says the issues still would have been raised regardless of the auditing standards. Columbus City Schools has a budget of about $650 million.

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