I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Shadow Economy, Part I

District Booster clubs, PTA's  and other Outside Support Organizations (OSO's)  provide support and assistance to students and athletic programs throughout our district.

We fully support and embrace the assistance provided by these groups.  In many instances we could not pay to staff the activities that these volunteers provide for our students.

But one area that has not been fully addressed is the level of oversight of these organizations, particularly when students and parents at some district schools are directed to pay athletic or other fees directly to these organizations in order for their students to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities.

In a soon to be released report on this subject, the district's internal auditing department makes some really good suggestions to improve the district's process for oversight/accountability of these organizations.  from the soon to be released report:

"we collected annual financial information related to each OSO operating in the District. We noted a total of approximately $2.81 million in income and approximately $2.77 million in expenses flowed through the District for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Approximately $795,000 of income flowed through PTAs and $2.02 million flowed through booster clubs..After obtaining all of the information, we tested to determine compliance with District, state, and federal requirements prescribed to OSOs. We also requested and compiled information related to the financial operations of each OSO. District monitoring guidelines mandate that this information be gathered and maintained by school principals. In most instances, principals were unable to provide the information. As such, we were significantly delayed as principals gathered the information from the OSOs. After receiving the required documents, we analyzed this information to determine the approximate amount of resources flowing into and out of the District’s OSOs.. The District has acknowledged that it has some monitoring responsibilities for OSOs, but it appears that  the traditional approach of having principals (or their designees) monitor OSO compliance has not produced the desired results. Many principals did not have the required information from the prior year, and are often unaware of the officers and/or activity of the OSOs they are charged with monitoring We have encountered this same scenario in previous OSO reviews. Although the Office of Community Involvement has some interaction with District PTAs, currently there is no District-level oversight of OSOs. As such, we recommend the District consider centralizing certain duties to adequately monitoring OSOs and help ensure the compliance of OSOs with prescribed District policies and procedures"

I intend to publish this report when it is finalized, as currently it is in draft form.

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