Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Auditors question charter school's use of funds

The Associated Press

State auditors are examining whether a Cincinnati charter school properly used $437,733 in federal funds, saying school officials failed to properly document school spending.

Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery issued a finding for recovery of $1,000 that the school paid out as reimbursement of personal checks written by the Greater Cincinnati Community Academy's director, Marie Congo. It is up to the state's attorneys to pursue the recovery.

Auditors found no documents to show that the payments to Congo were for a proper public purpose, Montgomery said. Congo and school treasurer Carl Shye are both legally liable for the $1,000, Montgomery said.

Congo and Shye did not return telephone messages left Tuesday afternoon at their office.

State auditors said officials of the charter school did not provide adequate documentation to show whether it appropriately spent $437,733 in federal assistance. The school is audited because it receives tax money.

Auditors recommended that the school maintain separate records of how it spends federal money. Failure to do so could result in a loss of federal aid, the auditors said.

The audit questioned whether the school will survive because, although it generated net income of $429,000 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2002, it wound up with a $1 million deficit.

The auditors also found that monthly financial reports were not submitted for review by the school's board, the school accepted undocumented loans from some of its officers, and there was no indication that purchases were approved before they were made.

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