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SPS School Board: We’re Making Changes After State Audit

Last year, the state auditor’s office conducted a review of Springfield Public Schools (SPS) and made some recommendations on how to improve the school district. Superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder and the school board say they are addressing the findings. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has an update.

 

In June, the state auditor’s staff will return for a follow-up on the progress. According to an audit progress report from the superintendent, some changes have already been put in place. Steve Chodes is the Chief Financial Officer for SPS.

“We’re going to have to review our existing procedures and see what changes we can make with existing personnel. We would like, if possible, to avoid having to add costs to the district because it’s been our goal all along to try and keep as much cost focused on the classroom rather than the administration.”

Here is a brief update on some of the changes:

As recommended, the board is in the process of hiring an internal auditor. Already, a vacancy notice has been posted online for the position, and soon a screening process will begin for applicants. The school board hopes to hire a person to fill that position by July.

The school board is still deciding the structure of the internal auditor’s job.  That person might report directly to the board, or he or she might work under the supervision of the superintendent.

“An internal auditor would develop a schedule of various areas to review. The areas would be those areas that involve cash. They might include things such as ticket taking at athletic events, food sales to the students."

Another change is that the school board has created a task force to help manage and monitor cash flow between the 50 schools in the district. This task force includes finance and operations staff members. Because the district is growing rapidly, the report said that this area will take time to study before any solutions and changes can be made.

“We have put together a task force. What we are going to do is review our current cash handling procedures at the sites and look at how they could be improved. Once again, the goal is to see if improvements can be made without having to incur additional costs.”

Lastly, the district says it’s now consistently charging fees for Sunshine Law requests. The requests are maintained by the district’s custodian of records. Any Sunshine Law request can be also posted online.

Chodes says that a few recommendations from the auditor may not be taken up. For example, he says that the board does not plan to bid out all legal services and fees, despite the auditor’s suggestion. He says the board has a long standing relationship with its current attorney, who has a lot of knowledge about the history of the district.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark