Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway says leadership has made major improvements to operations at the Fox School District in the city of Arnold, located in Jefferson County. The review comes after a 2016 report found inappropriate spending and severe mismanagement by the former district superintendent. The former administration racked up nearly $100,000 in questionable expenses with little oversight by the board. The follow up review found new procedures have been put in place to ensure purchases are appropriately monitored and reviewed.
"The Fox School District administration has made great improvements since the last report was issued nearly one year ago and I'm pleased to see so many of my recommendations have been put into place to better serve students, families and taxpayers," Auditor Galloway said. "My original report found the former superintendent used taxpayer dollars to personally benefit herself and a select few individuals close to her. That is unacceptable and the changes we see today were absolutely necessary to increase accountability and safeguard against abuses of power."
The original report detailed serious mismanagement by the former superintendent of the Fox School District. The audit uncovered thousands of dollars in questionable expenses, including restaurant meals, groceries, gas and electronics, purchased with public dollars. Credit card records showed hundreds of purchases that appeared to be personal in nature or otherwise inappropriate, without adequate board review and in violation of the district's credit card policy. Purchases ranged from common items, like coffee, batteries and shampoo to more extravagant ones, like digital cameras, smartphones and logging equipment. Thousands of dollars were spent on gift cards for places ranging from Buffalo Wild Wings to Best Buy. The lack of oversight allowed these issues to occur has been addressed through news policies and procedures, implemented at the district level.
The district has also made improvements to prevent against salary manipulation that was identified in the original audit, which found a series of adjusted contracts and administrator raises based on incorrect and inconsistent salary schedules. In some cases, base salaries were increased without board oversight and, too often, adjustments were made without explanation. A number of administrators, including the former superintendent, received inappropriate salary increases that were not approved by the board.
A copy of the progress report is available online here.