Who Keeps Tabs On Oklahoma Public School Spending?
By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- As a spending scandal rocks a Green Country school district, some parents are asking what they could have done to prevent it. So, who should be keeping tabs on your school's finances?
"Especially in the light of budget shortfalls facing our schools there are countless areas where this half a million dollars could have been spent including the classroom," said State Auditor Steve Burrage of the spending scandal at Skiatook Public Schools.
With the suspension of the Skiatook school superintendent, the community remains up in arms over the waste of taxpayer dollars.
"I think people are finally getting to the point where they've had enough and they want to do something about it," said concerned citizen Martin Warr.
"It's time to do something," said Molly Warr of Skiatook.
Slammed with a school spending scandal, some Skiatook citizens want to take action. Some are asking what should have been done to prevent half a million dollars worth of waste.
"It really is sacred taxpayers' money, and you really do need to be careful with that," said Dr. Keith Ballard, Superintendent of Tulsa Schools.
Before Keith Ballard took the helm at Tulsa Public Schools, he was in charge of school boards across the state.
"You do depend on the superintendent to properly inform you," Ballard said.
But Ballard says one of the primary roles of a school board is oversight.
"They can ask questions about the structure of various departments. If I were a school board member, I would want to know what the checks and balances were," said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard.
Although school finance is complicated, he says school boards can't plead ignorance.
"They are required to go through a 12-hour program that is put on by the state Department of Education and the Oklahoma School Boards Association. And they hear from a couple of people - they do hear from the state auditor," Ballard said.
Ballard says the best way for parents to keep tabs on their school district is through the ballot box.
"Frankly the role of the parents is to elect responsible board members who will insure that good practices are in place," he said.
By law, the public has a right to certain documents. And that includes the independent audits of school districts.