Monday, March 02, 2015

Audit: Huff, Board's might-as-well spending contributed to Joplin R-8 financial decline

Joplin R-8 CFO Paul Barr's famous "might-as-well" spending phrase is not included anywhere in the Joplin R-8 State Audit that was released this afternoon, but that spree, mainly fueled by an athletics wish list was heavily criticized in the audit.

"After the May 2011 tornado, the district started numerous construction projects, including four new buildings to replace five damaged schools (two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school and technical center).

"Excess unplanned expenditures incurred during the construction of the high school contributed to the declining fund balance, including site remediation due to an old abandoned lead mine at the building site and the inclusion of a track, additional tennis courts, concession stand, bleachers, lighting and artificial turf at the sports complex.

"After the beginning of construction, the district determined it would be more efficient in the long term to have athletic facilities onsite."
The auditors also noted the loans the district has been taking out to cover the board and the Huff Administration's excesses.

"The district obtained $37 million in short-term financing in August 2014 and anticipates obtaining an additional $14 million in short-term financing in March 2015 to cover construction expenses coming before the district receives final reimbursement from the Federal and State Emergency Managment Agencies.

"It is important the Board of Education continue to monitor the budget and cash flow projections to maintain a balanced budget and sound financial condition."

 In his response to the recommendation, Huff seems to indicate that he and the Board of Education had always intended to overspend.

"Within a few months of the tornado, the administration disclosed to the Board of Education and the community that the initial emergency disaster recovery effort would result in an estimated fund balance decline in the General Fund to as low as eight percent of General and Teachers Fund expenditures by fiscal year 2016. District fund balances have fallen to 10.64 percent as of June 30, 2014, on the path to our early eight percent estimates. As a district, we will remain diligent in our efforts to meet or improve upon that early estimation as we expend fund balances to meet disaster-incurred and education-related expenses."

Nowhere in that explanation does Huff explain how spending money on athletic items that were not in the original plans to the tune of eight and a half million dollars is a wise and prudent use of funds. But don't worry because everything will be o. k.

"In June 2013, the Board of Education adopted the Standards of Excellence. Standard 5 includes an indicator of financial stability with a goal to reach an operating fund balance of 25 percent. As the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget is developed, the district will construct a plan to begin increasing General Fund and Capital Projects Fund balances over time.


Anonymous said...

It is absolutely amazing how CJ and his crowd seem perfectly satisfied with sub-par performance. They are trying to spin that this is a decent or "acceptable" outcome. Mediocre graduation rates, teachers leaving by the scores and a "fair" audit - all is good...move along, nothing to see here.

Anonymous said...

The key words? "Continue to monitor." Had the Board "monitored" instead of "endorsed" then the district might not be in such bad shape. The Board, up to the election of Dr. Fort, has given CJ everything he's asked for. President Sharp said herself she sees her job as being the "cheerleader", not the "monitor." That would be doing what a governing board should do, not what CJ Huff wants to do.

Anonymous said...

Well even anonymous commenters have to admit it is much more acceptable outcome to them than a PERPWALK AND INDICTMENTS!

Dusty Roads said...

Well no skeletons in the closet folks

Anonymous said...

It is extremely frustrating to watch what was a good school system fall to the place that our students now must accept---merely "fair". Anyone who reads this audit HAS to realize what a terrible shape this district is in. WHERE have our elected representatives been? Every board member who has allowed this situation to develop should resign immediately! It will take years for R-VIII to recover

Anonymous said...

I believe the st joseph school district is the only school district to receive a poor rating. That Superintendent was fired shortly after.

Anonymous said...

Of course not when you get rid of the auditor and your greasing the replacement. You can adjust it to save your ass from prison.