Thursday, September 20, 2007

Opening the Books On Accounting Oddities at MCPS High Schools

Opening the Books On Accounting Oddities
By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2007 

A parent's inquiry into spending practices at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac over the summer prompted the revelation that the school's activity fund was $224,225 in arrears and that, in fact, several other high school funds had at least minor bookkeeping problems.
School system officials released copies last month of the most recent audits of high school activity funds -- collected from students and staff and spent on their behalf -- to media outlets after the hubbub over Churchill, whose audit showed that several accounts had large negative balances and that funds for different events were intermingled. The overruns included the purchase of $14,062 in clothing and promotional items for staff to wear, with $120 collected from employees to pay for it.
The annual audits, released to The Washington Post to fulfill a public record request, showed similar bad record-keeping at several other high schools, albeit on a smaller scale.
The only school with a fund problem approaching Churchill's was Albert Einstein High School in Kensington. There, auditors wrote, the independent activity fund "was close to insolvency," having gone from a positive balance of $178,000 to a deficit of $20,000 in two years. The audit report cited a $17,000 expense to refinish the gym floor performed without a signed contract and the required approval of the school system's chief operating officer...