Saturday, May 16, 2015

C. J. Huff defies auditors, expands role of Bright Futures USA

Less than a month after the release of a state audit criticizing the operation of Bright Futures Joplin and the failure of the school district to charge any rent or utilities to the not-for-profit Bright Futures USA, the C. J. Huff Administration was working with the not-for-profit to expand its role in the school system.

The board response to the audit said the Bright Futures Distribution Center was being phased out. Instead, an advertisement placed by Bright Futures USA indicates that it will continue its operation, moving it to the new administration building at Memorial and putting it under the control of the not-for-profit organization.

In the ad, Bright Futures USA CEO Kim Vann, who resigned her position in the R-8 School District in late 2014, gives her phone number as 417-625-5200, the administration building's phone number and lists her address as 310 W. 8th, the address at Memorial.

The audit criticized the operation of the Bright Futures Store and Distribution Center in the following manner:

Improvements are needed in the handling of inventory at the BF Joplin store and distribution center. BF Joplin was established in 2010 to improve student graduation rates and operate various programs to support students and their families in need. 

As the BF program became larger and gained more recognition and interest, other school districts wanted to implement a similar program. As a result, a national not-for-profit organization, Bright Futures USA, was created in July 2011. BF Joplin is an activity fund of the school district, budgeted as part of the district's General Fund, and remains a separate entity from Bright Futures USA. 

BF Joplin distributes items to students identified by staff that are in need of basic necessities such as shoes and clothing. BF Joplin operations include maintaining a distribution center to distribute donations received from the community and operating a district store selling merchandise to support the BF Joplin activities. 

Store inventory is not reconciled to merchandise purchases and sales and periodic physical inventories are also not conducted by district personnel. The last inventory completed was in July 2012, when the store opened. Store sales totaled $9,844 for the year ended June 30, 2014. 

A physical inventory is not taken of distribution center items. The distribution center is maintained to accept donations and is kept separately from the store. BF Joplin personnel assign a value to the donations based on Goodwill Industries International, Inc. determined values. They track the value of items disbursed and received by month. However, they do not maintain a perpetual inventory record and do not perform periodic inventories. Effective inventory internal controls require maintaining perpetual records of all inventory items and performing a reconciliation of the balances obtained during the physical inventory count and the balances recorded on the perpetual inventory records. Loss, misuse, or theft inventory may go undetected without adequate records and documented reconciliations. 

The board's answer (which as noted previously featured little input from the board and was almost entirely done by Huff and his administrative team) :

The district plans to close the Bright Futures Joplin store after final accounting is complete, including an ending inventory count. Remaining inventory will be merged with the high school student store operation. A single, efficiently operated student store will provide significant educational value. 

The distribution center was established out of necessity in 2011 following the tornado disaster. Large quantities of student clothing were generously donated to meet students' basic needs. Recent operations have been reviewed by management. The district has determined the distribution center has served its original purpose. The current plan is to wind down operations and discontinue the distribution center when the administration operation moves to the Memorial location in May. Staff will conduct an ending inventory count and determine the most proper way to account for the disposition of the ending inventory. Student needs will continue to be identified and met by assistance from the Joplin community.

An ad placed by Bright Futures USA in March indicates that not only is the distribution center not being shut down, but the Huff Administration will continue the distribution center out of the new administration building, inviting the not-for-profit organization back to come in and take charge of the operation.

The advertisement is for a "Bright Futures Joplin Donation Center Coordinator" with the position described in this fashion:

The belief that each individual community has the ability to help every one of its children thrive is a core value of Bright Futures USA. Bright Futures USA uses its proven framework to help communities and schools partner to quickly and efficiently meet students’ basic needs, often within 24 hours. This allows teachers to focus on educating students and allows students to focus on learning and ultimately achieve success. Bright Futures USA operates under the belief that when communities invest their time, talent, and treasure in their children and schools, students are more likely to stay in school through graduation, have a higher degree of self-worth and confidence, and set and reach goals for the future. In turn, these students grow up to be better neighbors, quality employees, and impactful leaders in their communities. It is a win for all parties involved. The goal of the current project is to recruit a VISTA to serve in Joplin, MO. Bright Futures Joplin has a Donation Center where the community can donate goods to be used for these immediate needs. These goods must be accounted for, shelved and then retrieved at the appropriate time and supplied to the students in an honorable and legal manor (sic). This function needs to be volunteer led and run. You will be asked to recruit volunteers, orient them to the various tasks, train them in certain legal procedures, ensure that safety and confidentiality are maintained and all student needs are met in 24 hours.

The following duties are specified:

Collaborate with Bright Futures and Joplin School District personnel to develop or enhance systems and processes to receive, thank, store, and distribute donated resources to campuses in the Joplin School District. Maintain documentation and prepare reports as required or requested. Collaborate with Bright Futures and Joplin School District personnel to utilize community volunteers to effectively support the activities of the Donation Center. Collaborate with Bright Futures and Joplin School District personnel to develop plans to solicit community resources to sustain the Donation Center.

The position is for one year, from July 18, 2015, through July 17, 2016, according to the ad, with applications being accepted through June 5.

Bright Futures USA CEO Kim Vann is the contact person and lists this contact information:

Kim Vann
310 W. 8th St. Joplin, MO 64801

The address is the new administration offices at Memorial, while the phone number is for the administration building.

The Board of Education signed off on what appears to be an attempt to deceive state auditors.


Anonymous said...

Why not!!??? He defies everyone and does whatever he wants. Laws don't even matter to this man. Why wouldn't be ignore the state auditor too?

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming it was the old Board that signed off on this. The new Board needs to take action before it goes any further.

Anonymous said...

Way too much time and money has been spent on this CJ Huff pet project as test scores continue to go down. The board needs to say this program is not worth what we are putting into it and focus on the education of kids in the R8.

Anonymous said...

Looks like someone is setting himself up for a new position...tell me again, what EXACTLY does Bright Futures do and who financially gains from it? And why is the school district paying for what services? Sounds shady to me!

Anonymous said...

Attention all staff at the Board office (except secretaries/support): just a friendly reminder....unless you received tenure as a teacher in the Joplin school district you will be losing your jobs here proactive and get those resumes updated...

Anonymous said...

Audits don't matter.

Dusty Roads said...

Kin Vann cannot even balance her own checkbook, she is a deadbeat, let alone be a CEO that is just hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Family Services, Crosslines, Southwest Community Alliance, Salvaltion Army, local churches, and other community service organizations are not doing a good enough job......Thank God for sendng us CJ Huff.

Anonymous said...

>>>I'm assuming it was the old Board that signed off on this.<<

Possibly only to the extent that the Huff and Puff crew has been issued ever inked rubber stamps.

>>>The new Board needs to take action before it goes any further<<<

A high priority for the new board should be to investigate who has the rubber stamps and what they have been using them for.

Anonymous said...

this is a slush find, and probably illegal. the auditor did not rule on legality, only operation..

Anonymous said...

I too have been wondering if Huff is arranging his own golden parachute for the inevitable day he's removed.

Due to Huff's outrageous attacks resulting in the anti-Huff faction gaining the presidency and therefore control of board meeting agenda, the board can talk about BF problems, although they're probably low on the list of priorities after minor details like not educating the students and running out of money.

With a 3-3 tie that show no signs of changing, the board doesn't have any other leverage to speak of to stop this, unless Huff is foolish enough to bring a proposal to spend district dollars or the like.

Anonymous said...

A 3-3 division allows for board discussion of uncomfortable topics with no notice to the huffandpuffers.

Some of the topics that could come up would put the huffandpuff faction in a hard place.

Activities that the auditors questioned and or frowned upon would be one example.

Huffandpuffers can continue to block and stall, but now it will be in the form of recorded votes.

Anonymous said...

Huffandpuffers can continue to block and stall, but now it will be in the form of recorded votes.

If the board president wants to put the pro-Huff 3 on the hot spot, they can indeed be forced to go on the record supporting bad Huff policies, which at the very least will be useful when they come up for reelection. And before then it might get hot enough for one or more of them to turn and help fix some of the problems.