Next up for the state auditor's office, finding waste and best practices in school districts

11/16/2012 08:00 AM

Not only will state auditors be combing through many of the 174 Kentucky school district finances, but over the next year they will be looking to spread some of the cutting edge approaches to education that seem to be working in schools, said state Auditor Adam Edelen.

“There are certainly best practices that can be adopted around the state — the use of technology … instead of what I believe is an outdated mode of the school-book system that we have,” he said (4:00).

That will be in addition to more standard audits of school district finances because, as Edelen said, now is the worst time for school administrators to be throwing dollars away.

“When you and I were kids, the back to school list was a trapper keeper and a box of pencils. Now it is cleaning supplies and toilet paper for goodness sake. Parents are clearly subsidizing the schools their kids go to beyond the taxes they pay” (1:30).

He added: “I happen to be a big believer that we are going to need an increased investment in education to get where we want to go. But before we can justify that to the taxpayers we have got to be running these administrations as efficiently and effectively and laser focused on classroom achievement.” (at 5:30).

Most recently an audit found excessive spending on travel and meals by Mason County’s superintendent, Tim Moore, who had led the district to high performance. Moore stepped down immediately, as the Maysville Ledger Independent reported on Oct. 30.

“Clearly what happened in Mason County which is so tragic is that resources were being used to subsidize the lifestyle of the people running that bureaucracy” (at 2:53).

Edelen also talked more about the most recent audit his office completed — the first comprehensive review of special districts in Kentucky, which he unveiled Wednesday.

These 1,268 districts of unelected boards — such as libraries, fire districts, health departments and sewer districts — that can tax or impose fees are a “ghost government” that spend $2.7 billion a year and have socked away more than twice what the school districts have in their rainy day funds combined.

He talked about the implications of the findings on Pure Politics on Thursday:

Jacqueline Pitts

Jacqueline Pitts is the producer of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. In addition to booking guests and pulling all of the information from the field together into a half-hour show, Jacqueline is also a regular contributor to “The Grind.” That’s a weekly segment with the cn|2 political staff to take a closer look at some of the most important, most interesting and often least talked about happenings in Kentucky politics. Jacqueline is from Nashville, but she’s a proud Western Kentucky University graduate. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqueline_cn2. She can be reached at 502-792-1114 or jacqueline.pitts@twcnews.com.

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