Sloppiness and worse in school finance

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Good morning,

At this business newsletter and website, we mainly confine police and court coverage to white-collar crime. The scanner sites can offer accounts of the latest shooting or pile-up on I-95.

Over the past couple of days, a bumper crop of white-collar cases have popped up in the In Box.

Two separate cases involved charter schools. In one instance, a former Dover principal pleaded guilty to theft charges, with 18 months in prison for the finance chief at a New Castle charter that also faced charges.

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That’s a high percentage of nefarious activity in a state with about 30 charter schools. Charters have to come up with their own start-up capital to get up and running before student state aid flows into their coffers. Obviously, the potential for abuse is great.

A related story this week looked at a report on public school districts from the State Auditor of Accounts.

The office examined the books of the state’s school districts are found bookkeeping 101 errors in posting transactions to the wrong categories.

More training and cooperation is needed,as well as standardized systems. Such systems may be more of a necessity in charter schools that may lack sufficient support staff and financial controls.

Also needed is a larger staff for the state Auditor’s office or related entity, along with a pro-active approach that deals with accounting and financial reporting issues.

It is not always fair to demand that government act more like a business. But in the case of school finances, the time for a more business-like approach is overdue.

Enjoy your weekend and get that pet-safe snow ice melt out. I have a couple of containers in the basement that went unused last year.

In the meantime, check out our people news post below. We have shifted the day of the week to Friday to allow for later submissions. The newsletter returns on Monday. – Doug Rainey, Publisher

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