Troubling audit

The Oakland school district could eventually have to repay up to $24.7 million to the state because of expenditures made more than two years ago.

Auditors from the state controller’s office, in typically untimely fashion, just finished scrutinizing the books from the 2005-06 school year. But the auditors found the district’s financial records to be so spotty from that time period that they couldn’t render an opinion – good, bad, or in between – on the overall fiscal picture.

I’m at the board meeting right now, and the auditors just finished presenting their findings. Definitely a downer.

“It would seem to me that we need a state takeover of the state takeover,” board member Greg Hodge said. “We’re essentially saying that the state didn’t do better record-keeping than we did on our own.”

In May, the district hired a private accounting firm to “disentangle” the payroll and cash account records, all the way back to the 2003-04 year, said Interim Superintendent Roberta Mayor. The district has also recently hired an internal auditor. Then there is the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). Oh, and the state controller’s office.

“If I had that kind of oversight on my personal finances, I think they’d be pretty pristine,” Hodge said. “Why is it that we can’t seem to get accurate information from the multiplicity of financial experts?”

You can find the whole 210-page report here. You can find the summary of findings at the back, starting on page 206.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • cranky teacher


  • Jim Mordecai

    Jack O’Connell’s illegal* charter school parcel tax Measure N) he’s placed on the Oakland’s November ballot and the audit are two separate events that illustrate the conundrum my feelings are in with regard to the State take-over.

    I want the State take-over to end and democracy to be restored. Jack O’Connell’s dealing to sell OUSD central administration land and the parcel tax including charter schools I see abuse of Jack O’Connell’s tyrannical power.

    However, as every audit has shown the finances of the District have not, after 5 years of State management (?) and 100 million dollar loan (?) been straightened out. For the children and employees of the District putting the financial house of the District in order must be priority one.

    I want the State out of Oakland as fast as possible but I fear that if they leave without curing the finances the structural problem will never be resolved.

    I also feel that the Broad influence delayed bringing attention to putting the District’s finances in order.

    Jim Mordecai

    *illegal because when required Formal Notice was delivered to every schoolhouse by email nobody was home to post the notices in public view as required by law.

  • Sue

    I’ve been very hesitant to post anything on this topic – I’m not sure I can keep the cynicism from coming out.

    I never thought it made any sense to have the state take over. It was obvious (to me anyway) that our last superintendant had inherited the financial mess, and that he was taking the right steps to try to correct it.

    Now we find out that the state didn’t improve the finacial situation any, and we’ve known all along that they weren’t improving anything else.

    Local control. When I pay my taxes, I want to hold accountable someone that I voted for.

  • Chauncey

    You really think taking out the state will solve the problem. The statebeing no better shows that large urban school district methodology needs to be refromed.

    The feds must really hate Oaktown, but I bet they could not do any better.

  • Former OUSD parent

    Well thank God we won’t see smiling Jack O’Connell as Governor…ever. And also bless the voters for establishing term limits.

  • Catherine

    Balancing the school budget seems to have historically taken a back seat in the OUSD School Board Bus. I finally hear school board members talking about a budget (extreme bean counting as one School Board Member stated), closing the GAP and accepting responsiblity for some of the failures that they took part in.

    Test scores have risen, School Board Members have spent more time balancing budgets instead of defending fifedoms, families within Oakland are having more say in the learning process of their children and there are more programs to help teachers learn how to teach in classrooms that have children with abilities one or more grades down and one or more grades up from the grade they are teaching. This has come about under State control.

    I, for one, believe that we needed to be under State control to have the OUSD School Board sit up and take notice. Should we fall back into the pattern we had before State control, I would hope the State would step in again and keep control until we had a complete turnover if that’s what it takes.