BOE audits charter schools' funding office
The Board of Education is auditing a state office that distributes more than $47 million annually to the island's 27 charter schools.
The goal of the audit, which is scheduled to be completed next month, is to find out whether the Charter School Administrative Office has effective financial and operational controls, identify any troubled areas and make recommendations for improvement.
Since it was established three years ago, the office, which has eight employees, has been headed by four different people, with Vanelle Maunalei Love, a former charter school administrator, serving now as its interim executive director. Love replaced Jim Shon, whose firing at a BOE meeting in September infuriated some in the charter school community who considered him a good leader and demanded that he be reinstated.
The audit being done by BOE Auditor Chris Lee will analyze cash disbursements and receipts, payroll, inventory and procurement of goods and services as well as the office's compliance with requirements of federal grants. Financial transactions dating back to September 2004 also will be reviewed.
Lee said he has started the audit, which will examine job duties, sick leave and vacation records.
Love, who originally proposed the audit soon after taking office, told a BOE committee yesterday that charters are "not trying to create a parallel system" with other public schools and that the audit should consider that when drawing conclusions.
"The role of this office still needs to be clarified," she said. "We expect there will be things we need to look at."
Maui board member Mary Cochran said she does not expect the office's philosophy to be an issue, because the audit will judge its operations using national standards.
"There are certain standards that are nationally accepted," she said. "I think it will be unbiased. ... It is not here to turn down the system, but rather to assess where we are at, to evaluate it and (see) where we go from there."
The audit is being done only now because the BOE just hired its own auditor, who will likely perform similar reviews of schools and offices in the future, said member Karen Knudsen.