This is the kind of information that ‘must give us pause’. There is more to know in this report.
When the latest audit report came out this month, Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times started checking the list. He discovered that 76 out 0f 595 charters were running in the red in 2013. He reported that 25% of the charters in Broward were on the list.
Two charters were identified as unlikely to be able to continue to operate. Others either had substantial real estate debt or had what they hoped were short term financial problems. These problems may be attributed to declines in enrollment or one time purchases. If the charter is part of a management company chain, the company may bail out the charter. This may just ‘paper over’ problems.
We looked further. The Auditor General’s report lists significant findings for 125 charter schools, there were 209 findings of:
- weaknesses in internal controls
- instances of non compliance of laws or rules or other matters
- 31 charters with material weaknesses (These are problems that may be cause for closing a charter.)
The report mentioned that 56% of all charter audits did not comply with one or more rules of Chapter 10.850 Rules of the Auditor General. Charter audits do not follow the rules? How can this be? The audits are done by private companies selected by the charter boards. When I went through the 2011-12 audit reports, the formats were different and the content was not consisted from one school audit to the next.
We know that there is lax oversight by many charter school boards. We know that districts express frustration over their inability to require better management to prevent failure of charters. There must be some truth in all of this. The audit report states that 19% of the audit findings continued from 2012-13 and 14% continued from 2011-12. At some point, the Department of Education, the State School Board, and the legislature need to take a serious look at how to improve charter oversight. We in the League believe that districts need more responsibility.