State audit board says Dunes charter school had excessive cash

2014-03-06T18:15:00Z 2014-03-06T20:36:39Z State audit board says Dunes charter school had excessive cashCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | The Indiana State Board of Accounts released an audit report for Charter School of the Dunes showing that in 2009-10, it had excessive cash on hand from federal stimulus money and wasn't able to access the remaining funds.

The State Board of Accounts released the report this week, covering the periods of July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.

According to the report, the charter school was awarded almost $147,000 and had excessive cash balances ranging from $13,033 to $124,896. The Gary charter school did not receive stimulus money, also called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in January 2010 due to the large cash balance on hand. It also was not allowed to request the remaining funds of $62,994.

Additionally, the charter school was awarded $76,434 in Title I School Improvement Grants for the 2009-10 school year. At the end of the year, the cash balance in the Title I School Improvement Fund was $23,384, 31 percent of the original grant award.

Ball State University Office of Charter School was the authorizer for the charter school, and the charter school paid it $72,020 for the school year ending June 30, 2010; $80,947 for school year ending June 30, 2011; and $85,248 for the school year ending June 30, 2012.

Calumet College of St. Joseph became the new sponsor of Charter School of the Dunes effective July 1. The change followed an announcement by Ball State that it would end its sponsorship of the charter school June 30, saying the school's consecutive years of academic failure were a problem. The school earned an F in 2012 and 2013.

According to the audit, the school changed management companies and is with Chicago-based American Quality Schools. It paid the company $225,882 for the year ending June 30, 2012, and the agreement is renewable annually.

The report noted the school's new building, finished last summer at a cost of $13 million.

The audit also said it sampled 15 students for the purpose of verifying the income eligibility for subsidized meals and textbook reimbursement. Within this sample, 3 of the 15 applications resulted in an inaccurate determination of eligibility, according to the audit. None of the applications contained evidence of the person responsible for the eligibility determination.

In the school's written response, former School Board President Danielle Sleight, who is now employed by the school, said the items cited in the audit had been corrected.

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