Gary charter school to return unspent grant money

2012-12-11T21:30:00Z 2012-12-11T23:00:05Z Gary charter school to return unspent grant moneyBy Carmen McCollum, (219) 662-5337

An audit of the 21st Century Charter School of Gary turned up no major problems.

The audit was conducted by Indianapolis-based certified public accountants Katz, Sapper & Miller for the period July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2012. 

The independent auditor said 21st Century Charter school did not spend all  its grant money and that the balance would have to be returned to the Indiana Department of Education. It also said due to a change in accounting staff during the audit periods, financial records and account reconciliations were not prepared and reviewed in a timely manner. They said that resulted in errors to account balances as well as journal entries being posted in duplicate and funds drawn in excess of expenses.

The audit was conducted based on the guidelines established by the Indiana State Board of Accounts. State officials said because of the growing number of charter schools across the state and the number of traditional public schools, independent auditors will conduct audits of the 72 charter schools in Indiana.

Dana Johnson, 21st Century Charter School treasurer, said the grant money will "absolutely" be returned. There were two grants where the money was not all spent. One of them was the federal special education grant and the other was a Title II grant for improving teacher quality.

Johnson said about $80,000 will be returned for both grants."The total amount of the two grants was $522,000," Johnson said. "We ended up not spending the entire amount. It is not a significant amount. The system has changed now. We used to get the funds upfront and if we didn't spend it all, we had to return some money. The new system calls for us to expend the funds, then be reimbursed by the state."

She said the school also put in a new accounting system to resolve the reconciliation issues the audit pointed out.

Kevin Teasley, president of the Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, which is the management company for 21st Century Charter School, said the important thing to note is that the audit is "unqualified," which means it's a clean audit with no major issues. School officials said 21st Century is not having any problems and is operating in the black.

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