State auditors have called into question contracts for consulting services and employees; uses of federal funds; and, reimbursement payments made by the Mineral Springs-Saratoga School District in an audit of the district's books for 2011-2012.
State auditors have called into question contracts for consulting services and employees; uses of federal funds; and, reimbursement payments made by the Mineral Springs-Saratoga School District in an audit of the district's books for 2011-2012. The findings are outlined in an audit letter dated March 11 by Deputy Legislative Auditor Larry W. Hunter, which recounts, among other things, that: -- some $132,719 in federal Title I grant funds were paid in salaries and benefits for eight district employees, along with various operating expenses, that should have come from local funds, instead; --that the district did not document or receive Arkansas Department of Education approval for $47,100 in fiscal year 2013 consulting contracts with a company owned by former Superintendent Max Adcock's brother; --that Adcock's wife was paid a salary for a position for which she had not qualified at the time; --that an employee who contracted for bus driving services with Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas was paid more than $9,000 by the college and submitted time sheets to the district and collected more than $24,000 for the same trips, as well as allegedly submitting time sheets to the district for trips for which she had already been paid, and allegedly altered a contract for payment to receive an additional $300 she was not due; --that 11 employees were paid amounts different from the approved salary schedule; --that the sources of funds listed on employee contracts were not always the same sources of funds from which they were actually paid; --that the district did not have a means to account for athletic event receipts based upon the issuance of pre-numbered tickets, and; --that the district did not properly issue contracts to all employees as required by state law, in one instance allowing one employee to assume the contract of another employee. In all, the letter cites 24 examples of questionable financial oversight or procedure in nine general areas of concern. Interim Mineral Springs Superintendent Bill Blackwood said Wednesday that the findings are part of the reason the state education department has not allowed the district to hire new employees or replace those who have resigned. Blackwood said he discussed the situation with education department officials last week. “They have not told us that we can issue any new contracts,” he said. “Some of these jobs, there are not a lot of people out there for them.” Eleven employees, including the Mineral Springs High School principal, resigned Monday night. Blackwood said the audit has raised other questions about the district's finances; that none of the employees involved have been dismissed, and none of the salaries or payments involved have been changed. “We have found some other stuff,” he said. “Most of those payments are still being paid this year. The only thing I can do is change the contract for next year. I can't retrieve any money from this year or last year.” Blackwood said as many as 42-43 employee contracts are involved. He said the district had 16 employee vacancies in the 2011-2012 school year and hired 24 new employees. Blackwood said Adcock's wife was among several employees who have been told their contracts with the district will be changed to reflect their qualification status. “We notified several people before May 1 that their contracts would not be renewed at the same amount,” he said. He said the consulting contracts with Educators Consulting Service, Inc., which is owned by Adcock's brother, were originally signed by former Interim Superintendent Jeanie Gorham after Adcock's contract was not renewed by the district's board. Blackwood said he has since cancelled two other contracts with the firm.