Sneak Preview: Better Monitoring Urged for Missouri Ed Program

March 25, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is launching an online process designed to streamline how the state’s school districts comply with Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program requirements in response to a recommendation by the Missouri State Auditor (MSA) to improve program monitoring.

In a recent audit of the state’s Early Childhood Development, Education, and Care (ECDEC) Fund, the MSA found that DESE provided about $21.3 million in ECDEC funds for the fiscal year ending June 2014, and $19.9 million for the fiscal year ending June 2013 for school districts, grant recipients and contractors participating in the ECSE, Missouri Preschool Project (MPP) and the Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs. However, MSA further concluded that DESE does not adequately monitor recipients to ensure the monies are spent in compliance with these programs’ regulations.

DESE reimburses school districts for the cost of providing ECSE services to eligible students. Current year reimbursements are based on prior year actual expenditures. Districts with eligible expenditures are required to submit a final expenditure report, which determines the amount to be reimbursed during the subsequent school year.

After reviewing expenditure reports for seven districts, MSA found weaknesses in oversight. Although DESE requests that districts describe the method used to prorate facility operating expenses and transportation expenses, it does not require the district to document the method used. “Without adequate detail and documentation of calculation methods, DESE cannot review the reasonableness of reported expenditures or detect unallowable expenditures,” MSA added. Further, DESE did not detect that it had made duplicate payments to a school district for capital lease purchase agreements on the same property, causing it to overpay the school district $77,300.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site).

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