Eudora A group of Eudora school district patrons is calling for a state audit after it reviewed four years of district financial statements.
According to Connie Ford, a Eudora woman spearheading the effort, questions were raised when a citizens' committee was formed to evaluate ways of improving the nutrition of school lunches without raising the prices. In researching the issue, committee members studied the district's financial reports for fiscal years 1987 to 1992.
While the school board maintained that the food service program was losing money, committee members found $50,000 in the account, Ford said. The apparent discrepancy led the group to further investigate the district's financial management practices, she said.
Supt. Dan Bloom said he welcomes an audit. "We hope there is an audit," he said. "We don't have anything to hide."
FORD SAID the survey triggered a number of concerns, including whether the district has complied with state laws and regulations in transferring money between funds; the way some expenditures are recorded in budget documents; and possible discrepancies in the district's reports for its food service program.
One specific concern centered on the amount of money budgeted in the miscellaneous categories. During the four-year period, Ford said, $546,807 was slated for "other" uses.
"We want to know what is `other,'" she said.
THE GROUP also questioned the need for cash carry-over of more than $3 million in various funds from the 1990-91 school year. Ford said this indicates either the district has received excessive tax revenue or the district has failed to spend an appropriate amount of money on education.
The group is scheduled to formally request an audit before the Legislative Post Audit Committee on Nov. 4 in Topeka.
"There's nothing wrong with asking for this audit," Ford said. "The town will benefit whichever way it goes."
An audit would do one of two things, she said. Either it will uncover nothing unusual and put to rest any mistrust patrons may feel for the superintendent and the board, or it will pinpoint errors and steps would be taken to correct the situation.
BLOOM ARGUED that money in the district's various funds that was carried over from previous years is used to offset expenses early in the year.
"If you start with a zero cash balance, you can't cover expenses that crop up before money comes in," he said. "If you start with zero, you'll be in the hole within the first month."
For example, he said, the food service fund started the school year with $50,000, but that decreased to $30,477 by Oct. 14.
He also denied claims that the district doesn't spend enough money on education, saying Eudora's expenditures are close to the state average. Bloom said the group seeking the audit probably doesn't understand the technicalities involved in the financial management of a school district.
"Generally speaking, they don't have a lot of expertise with how school district budgets work," he said.