To audit or not to audit, that is the question.

I hate to disappoint Loren Martell. I thought like me he would be paying close attention to the bombs I saw dropped during the Business Committee Report but perhaps they were not so obvious to him. That, of course, will leave me with a larger responsibility to describe them which I will in ue time. I’m not in a great rush to put those posts at the head of the line for a couple reasons in no particular order. A. I’m hoping not to inflame the Board majority which has the power to find a graceful way out of the civil war which we have taken to the courts. I figure next week will be the point of no return on that slim hope. B. I’ve got two other school board related projects I’m working on the first being locating and giving pointers on campaigning to good candidates the second being raising money for Art Johnston’s legal defense fund. And C. I’ve got an easy dozen other posts to write and edit which will likely make hash of objective A. on this list.

I should have anticipated Loren’s disappointment when I saw that his column in today’s Reader was only a single page in length and not his usual two. His chief complaint was that his long standing wish for a state audit was not ardently defended by anyone on the Board this week. More galling to him were the accomodating things I had to say about a change in our policy book that he has spoken vigorously against – dropping the five year state audit.

The change to the policy we adopted drops the every five-year language, which in any event has been ignored for almost four successive five year periods. Instead we have inserted language which reminds the Board that it can request an audit of the State Auditor anytime it wishes.

I was satisfied with this language and happy to avoid fireworks for two practical reasons. First, the Auditor no longer routinely audits school districts. In fact, I’m somewhat at a loss to explain what the Auditor does these days. As I’ve written before my Grandfather was the Kansas State Auditor for 24 years running but I was surprised a decade ago to learn that Kansas abolished the office I once visited as a small boy. Second, we would have lost the vote had we pressed our case. I thought some compromise, no matter how limp, was more useful.

Loren has made a very strong case for the need to an occasional independent audit being conducted by CPA’s who don’t want to lose future business by being too rigorous. But the other side has made a strong argument that the State Auditor of old is getting out of the auditing business, and besides, we weren’t following the old policy anyway. Mike Miernicki argued that he had a hard time justifying the Board’s inaction to many people who agree with Loren and ex-Board member Rich Paulson. Mike thought this change would give him cover and I must admit, I know Rich didn’t have that policy in place in his time on the Board back in the 1970’s. It was a policy pushed by Superintendent Mark Myles in the early 1990’s following a succession of years with iffy financial management.

In my defense I do intend to push for a state audit next year if there is a change in the School Board. It won’t be a mandated every five-year audit but a state audit it will be nonetheless………if the Auditor’s office agrees to do the work. Sadly, there is no guarantee that it will.

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