Preliminary findings released by state auditors on Feb. 19 indicate year-over-year improvement in how the Monroe County School District handles finances and operations, but problems remain in the Adult Education Department.
That department is the old province of Monique Acevedo, a former district administrator serving prison time for stealing more than $400,000 from the district, largely in cash tuition payments for classes.
"Our review of 969 hours reported for 10 students enrolled in 38 adult general education classes disclosed contact hours were over-reported by a total of 292 hours for eight students in 38 classes," the state Auditor General's Office wrote.
"The errors occurred because students enrolled in different classes that met at the same time and the district over-reported hours for classes the students did not attend. Given the number of errors, the full extent of the class hours over-reported was not readily available."
"I don't understand that," School Board member John Dick said. "When you really look at those numbers, it could be an astounding amount. I don't understand why it can't be corrected."
He and board member Ed Davidson agreed that it might be time to consider dropping adult education.
"If we can't correct it, let's unload it," Dick said.
Davidson referenced Acevedo's downfall, which also saw the conviction of Monique's husband Randy, the former elected superintendent. He was convicted of official misconduct for helping cover up his wife's theft and sentenced to three years of probation.
Adult education "was the focus of the Acevedo scandal," Davidson said. "My lord, if we can't do this right, we should get out of this business."
This is the second year in a row state auditors found fault with recordkeeping in the Adult Education Department.
Superintendent Mark Porter said there's no need to dispense with adult ed because "strong leadership" has corrected the problem.
"When the previous audit findings came out, there really was no opportunity to correct it," he said. "But for the 2013-14 year, that finding has been corrected. We're confident that finding will be removed in the next audit."
There are a total of nine findings in the audit, which covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. That's down from 19 in the previous fiscal year and a five-year high of 26 findings in 2010.
"I think we're showing progress," Porter said. "I don't want to sugarcoat things. We want that number to be zero."
The district has 30 days to submit a response to the Auditor General's Office, which will be included in the final document.