Local school district’s financial books so bad state can’t audit it

Jefferson Twp. Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard Gates said the district will get to the bottom of its “unauditable” financial books in a third of the mandated time.

Jefferson is Ohio's only traditional school district to currently carry that designation.

State Auditor Dave Yost said Jefferson Twp. Schools’ finances cannot be audited for the period of July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, because of their condition.

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“Poorly kept records create a lack of accountability,” Yost said in a press release. “The Jefferson Twp. Local School District must bring its records back to an auditable condition to complete the audit.”

The press release said the district has 90 days to revise its financial records and provide the necessary data for which the auditor’s office has provided a list.

“The state has offered their help and we will take advantage of that if we need it, but this will be done within 30 days,” Gates said Thursday. “We have been a very fiscally responsible district and plan to continue to do that.

“Something like this is a very important matter to us. We’re going to get it corrected. We’re looking into it. We’re going to get to the bottom of it. We’re going to get this done.”

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The only other school district to be on the unauditable list is Lawrence County Academy, a charter school.

The release said that “failure to bring accounts, records, and reports to an audit-able condition may result in legal action, including the possibility of the Attorney General issuing a subpoena to district officials to explain the condition of records. The Attorney General may also file suit to compel the officials to prepare and/or produce the required information.”

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Gates said the district has good communication with Treasurer Chris Frame.

“The treasurer is well aware of it and whatever needs to be done, again I’ll repeat this, we’ll do,” Gates said. “We’ll get this corrected.”

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Asked if Frame’s employment was up for debate, Gates answered: “No comment on that.”

In a Jan. 20 letter to Frame and Gates, the auditor’s office said fiscal statements that were due Nov. 30 had not been turned in nor had “adequate progress in completing the financial statements been made as of Jan. 20, 2017.”

Gates said he had some idea the finances weren’t up to standard, but that he didn’t know the extent of it.

“All I can tell you is whatever needs to be done, we will do,” Gates repeated. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this and we’re going to get this corrected.”

Last year, Jefferson Twp. Schools had some good news as it ranked third in the state in K-3 literacy improvement.

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