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School Board Requests State Audit for Jefferson County Public Schools

The Jefferson County Board of Education is asking State Auditor Adam Edelen to review the district’s finances and policies.

The board approved the request Monday night 5-2 following a recommendation from Superintendent Donna Hargens. Edelen has completed several audits of school districts elsewhere in the state, often finding spending discrepancies.Those audits were requested and based on specific complaints, but the JCPS board agreed its request will not be centered on complaints.  District 3 board member Debbie Wesslund opposed the request, saying JCPS has had enough outsiders review the district and now it’s time to focus on students.  “We have looked and looked and looked. We have looked under every rug, we have done everything we can and now we’re going to defend JCPS. We do everything we can to do this right. Sometimes it’s time to stop,” she says. District 5 board member Linda Duncan joined Wesslund in opposition. JCPS expects Edelen’s audit to offer a comprehensive review of the district’s finances, policies and procedures, and compare it to other school districts. JCPS provided media the following information regarding the scope of the audit:

  • Determine whether policies governing contract procurement are adequate, consistently followed, and provide for a transparent process.
  • Determine whether internal audit process exists and whether policies governing the internal audit process are adequate, consistently followed, and provide for timely reporting.
  • Review District Board policies and evaluate policies using Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) recommendations applicable to boards of education and school districts.
  • Analyze certain categories of financial activity for compliance with District policies and for various transaction activities, as well as, determine whether transactions appear reasonable, excessive, necessary, and have a related business purpose.
  • Inquire whether conflicts of interest exist.
  • Determine how the District compares to other state school districts or peer districts throughout the country involving use of funds for central office administration and classroom instruction.
  • Report financial or innovative practices implemented to control or reduce non-instructional costs as reported by various Kentucky school districts.

Wesslund argues JCPS recently received an audit in 2012, which included a comprehensive 500-plus page report of the district's management and policies including some measurements of central office spending against peer school districts. District 1 member and board chair Diane Porter supports the audit and says this should satisfy those who question the district’s practices. “At the end of this audit I really think that it’s time that we say enough data, enough information, let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s get the job done keeping the focus on what we can do for the children of Jefferson County," she says. The audit would cost JCPS up to $125,000.