‘Parents deserve to know’: Missouri state auditor launches proactive school district finance reviews

(The Lion) — The Missouri state auditor is fulfilling his campaign promise to proactively audit school districts and provide accountability to parents.

Scott Fitzpatrick announced his office is starting with a review of the Independence School District (ISD) in the Kansas City area, childhood home of President Harry S. Truman.

“When I ran for state auditor, one of my top priorities was using our resources to audit more school districts because previous administrations had not been auditing any school districts unless they were petitioned to do so by citizens,” Fitzpatrick explained in a press video.

His purpose in auditing ISD – which is one of Missouri’s largest districts – is to “look at how it’s spending your tax money to educate these students, and make sure that it’s being spent in the best way possible.”

Another press statement explained that while school districts must have financial audits annually, “they rarely have audits that evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of district operations.”

One reason Fitzpatrick chose to start with ISD was because it’s experimenting with a four-day school week model.

“The combination of them being a large district that has a four-day week that’s in the Kansas City area was a big factor,” he explained.

While no complaints have been filed against ISD, it’s not uncommon for state audits to find mismanagement in school districts.

A recent Mississippi audit found schools statewide were spending more on administration than the classroom. Other state audits commonly find evidence of misspent funds or neglect of special-education students.

“Parents and taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are being used by their schools, and to have a better understanding of how district decisions impact their children’s education,” Fitzpatrick explained.

“We will take a thorough look at how the Independence School District is operating, with the goal of providing parents with the information they deserve to know about how the district is performing, and make necessary recommendations on how the district can make their schools more efficient and more effective for their students.”

Before being elected state auditor Fitzpatrick had served as the elected state treasurer, and as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He received a degree in Finance from University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business.

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