Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen accepted the Jefferson County Public Schools’ request to audit the school district today Wednesday.
Edelen was joined by JCPS board members, Superintendent Donna Hargens and Mayor Greg Fischer in announcing details of the audit which was approved by the board this week, following a recommendation from the superintendent.
“This is the result of properly focused policy makers organically having conversations about how important public education is,” Edelen says.
Conversations about the potential for a state audit surfaced last week and surprised some board members, however Edelen says he and Hargens have discussed the potential for several months.
Officials say they’re confident that the audit will include recommendations and findings will strengthen the district. Both Edelen and Hargens say the audit will make sure every dollar is being used for student outcomes.
“This is an audit of our structure and do we have the best practices in place in central office,” says Hargens.
The audit’s office will focus on the financial and administrative operation of the central office.
Edelen says it will review contracts and procurement, administration and travel expenses, and district policies for internal auditing and ethics. Further, he says it will compare JCPS to similar districts nationwide. It will also indentify best practices to control non-instructional cost, he says.
It’s broad, he says.
Edelen couldn’t say how far back the auditor’s office would look, and whether it would include previous administrations.
“We need to go back far enough to see the new things that superintendent Hargens has introduced to see whether they’ve worked and to make an evaluation about whether those are indeed best practices that not only ought to be solidified here in Louisville, but potentially can be recommended statewide,” he says.
Edelen also couldn’t say how long the audit might take to complete, however he did say it would take a “Herculean” effort to complete it this year. He later said it would be a matter of “many months.”
In support of the effort is Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim, who attended Wednesday’s press conference.
McKim says the JCTA is supportive of the audit and says he hopes there are recommendations that help the central office deliver services to students more efficiently.
“We hope they find nothing because we’re as efficient as we can be,” he says. But, “we expect that there will be some recommendations for improvements and probably some surprises. I think that’s the nature of audits,” he says.
When asked whether he would be looking at the teachers union contract, Edelen said “it’s not within our scope.”
Mayor Fischer says his part is to represent the taxpayers and city.
Edelen says he’s had conversations with Fischer regarding the audit and says that conversation came up after speaking with Hargens.
“This isn’t a new conversation. It’s not a new conversation between the mayor and I and it really isn’t a new conversation between the Superintendent and myself,” he says.
Edelen calls himself the most aggressive auditor for public education in Kentucky’s history.
Discussion between the auditor’s office and the school district will begin immediately, Edelen says, but no meetings have been scheduled as of yet.