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Missouri Auditors to Review Rockwood School District

TAKE POLL WITH ARTICLE: Rockwood School District will be evaluated by Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich staff sometime during later half of this year for a cost of $180,000, based on request submitted by local watchdog group RS for RS.

as of Wednesday was placed on the audit plan for the later half of this year by the Missouri Auditor's staff, as confirmed by Spence Jackson, media director for State Auditor Tom Schweich's office in Jefferson City.

Representatives of a local watchdog coalition, Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions (RS for RS) indicated in a Wednesday afternoon press release they had requested the audit several months ago due to Rockwood board of education member Steve Smith serving as the school board's president while also being a project manager of Glenn Construction Co., a vendor that has received most of the district's new building projects for more than a decade. RS for RS members contend that district records indicate Glenn Construction was awarded district business, often with little to no competitive bidding.

, as reported by Patch in mid-December. At the time, Smith said he still would execute his term as a board member, which expires in April 2015.

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Jackson said the audit will be done when the state's staff can fit it into their existing calendar. He noted many of the entities currently waiting for audits were initiated last year, so the timing of Rockwood's audit will "come down to a scheduling issue."

Communication about the audit is so fresh, in fact, he said they have not issued an official news release about it yet.

He said the next steps at some point would be for an auditing staff to meet with district officials to explain the scope of the audit, as well as the resulting plan specific to Rockwood.

Eileen Tyrrell, RS for RS co-founder and spokesperson, said the intent of the audit request was to assure Rockwood's taxpayers that district operations are in accordance and compliance with Missouri's regulations, laws, and statutes as they apply to operating public school districts.

Rockwood School District went through its last state compliance audit 18 years ago in 1994. RS for RS indicated that audit yielded 65 recommendations spanning 15 areas of operation: construction projects, district-owned vehicle use, compensation and personnel policies, student activity funds, petty cash, transportation contracts, accounting system and financial reporting, budgeting procedures, ballot issues and printing cost, missing funds, bidding and rental policies, controls over disbursements, maintenance and custodial management service contracts, energy program, and general fixed assets records and procedures.

“By putting the Rockwood School District on their audit list, the cost of approximately $180,000 for the audit will come out of the auditor’s office’s budget and not the school district’s, a fact that is very satisfactory to our coalition,” said Tyrrell.

“While we feel a compliance audit is very much needed, the average stakeholder found it hard to understand why the audit cost should come directly out of district funds and not state funds—especially in light of the recent expose on the Rockwood bidding and proposal process.”

Tyrrell, a resident, said RS for RS is a non-partisan group of taxpaying Rockwood citizens who recognize the recent negative events that attracted much media coverage are a result of a lack of transparency, fiscal irresponsibility and exclusion by district officials of parents and taxpayers in the decision-making process.

She said while many more Rockwood patrons verbally supported the desire to have the district evaluated by state officials, they shied away from endorsing the RS for RS petition to request an audit "because district representatives could look at who actually signed."

"Some Rockwood parents feared negative retributions would be somehow taken out on their children," she said.

RS for RS volunteers did collect several hundred signatures, Tyrrell said.

Editor's Note:  Patch requested a response from Rockwood officials this morning, and will add those details when received.

Robert George February 24, 2012 at 08:41 PM
An audit is a waste of Missouri taxpayer's money. The controversies in Rockwood are not a matter of poor financial management, rather poor financial decisions. An audit will not get at the heart of the issue dealing with district leadership and Board decisions that have a direct impact on students and student achievement.
Corri Hoppe February 25, 2012 at 03:22 PM
With the controversy that prompted an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the "coziness" of the district with Glenn Construction company, followed by the associated board member's quick resignation, it seems plausible that there are other poor financial decisions that will be exposed. The outcome of the audit should be a strong message to taxpayers and stakeholders that if we need better financial management, we come together as stakeholders to address the district and be heard. This will require stakeholders, taxpayers and parents to step forward and come out of the comfort of anonymity. An audit could potentially save Rockwood taxpayers and stakeholders money in the long run.

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