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Questions that need to be answered

on Sat, 03/24/2012 - 22:57

Update:  Cindy's questions have finally been answered!

In April, the district reported that it had received a donation of $200,000 that covered the deficit in the Legal Defense Fund.    The donation came from the Walton Family Foundation,  a supporter of voucher programs.  In our April 24th newsletter, we asked that you boycott Wal-Mart and associated companies.

In May, we were given the news that the 1.1 million dollars that was being  held in the charter school account for the voucher programs was unencumbered as of April 20, 2012.  At that time, the district also reported that only 4 schools owe money for voucher payments totaling $25,162.50.

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Taxpayers for Public Education's President, Cindy Barnard, submitted this letter to Board of Education President, John Carson, to reiterate her questions stated during the public comment portion of the March 20, 2012 school board meeting.  We eagerly await his answers.

John,

After stating my concerns and questions at the Board meeting Tuesday night you stated that you would have staff get back to me with answers. I have restated my concerns and questions here so the appropriate staff can get back to me.

A. Currently there is a deficit in the Legal Defense Fund of $178,992. Donations totaling $607,446 have been received as of March 20, 2012. Legal expenses as of March 20, 2012 total $786,438 leaving the deficit. ( At the end of February when I first inquired about the deficit it was $23,246.) 

I am often asked about the expenses and revenues in the Legal Defense Fund. The deficit and the use of District funds is concerning and the public is very aware of your promise to not use district funds to cover your legal expenses. It is for this reason I inquired about the deficit before letting the public know it existed.  I want to be very sure my information is accurate. I also believe that three follow up requests and one month's time is enough for an answer. Randy was kind enough Tuesday night to verbally address my questions, but they still go unanswered. The Communications Department is always timely when answering CORA requests and their work is appreciated. I was told that my questions and concerns were sent to legal and it is there they sat unanswered. I have attached a spreadsheet I created to track the revenues and expenses as well as the information sent to me from the District. Paid legal expenses were found on the Financial Transparency page of our district website.

My question is:

1. What fund was used to cover the deficit?
2. What is your plan going forward with the  use of District funds?

B. Last summer funds were transferred from the general fund into a charter account for the vouchers. As dollars are being returned from the private schools they are being deposited in this charter account. From my inquiry I learned that there is a balance of $1,110,753 dollars being held in this account. Funds, to the best of my knowledge, were transferred in before state funding for 2011/2012 was received. Therefore, $1.1 million is sitting in an account that was not included in the audited financial statement or included in the 2011 fund balance. On Tuesday night, Randy stated that "tuition" for the voucher students for this year came from another account and the $1.1million currently held in the charter account will roll into the general fund at the end of this year.  Either way, there is $1.1 million dollars that could be used to offset cuts to our high schools. 

My questions are: 
1. Why are funds sitting in an account that does not currently serve students?
2. Why were these funds not transferred back into the general fund and included in the 2011 fund balance? 
3. Will the $1,110,753 dollars be used to offset cuts in the 2012/2013 budget?

 Thank you for your time. 

 Respectfully,

 Cindy Barnard

Click here to see a spreadsheet of the Legal Defense Fund donations and expenses.