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State delving deeper into DCSS Title I spending

Joshua Murfree

Joshua Murfree

ALBANY, Ga. — Just a month after reimbursing the state more than $134,000 for unallowable Title I Part A expenditures in FY2012, the Dougherty County School System received two letters from the Georgia Department of Education this week questioning an additional $167,000 in expenditures from FY2011.

In a letter dated Nov. 5, DOE Title Programs Director Margo DeLaune outlined 110 questionable Title I expenditures by the District requesting additional documentation to justify the expenses, a reclassification of the expenses, or reimbursment.

In second letter dated Nov. 6, DOE Deputy Superintendent Avis King cited “serious concerns” regarding the District’s Title I, Part A program in placing the system on “High Risk” status.

King also informed DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree the department had placed the District on a “reimbursement basis,” meaning the system may not draw any portion of its FY2013 Title I Part A allocation until the DOE has reviewed and approved all purchase orders, receipts and other documentation for reimbursement.

“We have received the latest communication from the federal programs office at the Georgia Department of Education and there should be little surprise for the information it contains,” Murfree wrote in an emailed statement Thursday. “ ... These letters present an opportunity for our system to improve some procedures and practices of the past and move forward.”

The Nov. 5 letter addresses 110 questionable Title I expenditures ranging from $20 in travel reimbursements to $30, 699 for 10 District achievement assessments at eight elementary and two middle schools.

The state also wants more information on:

— $21,000 for 44 travel reimbursements

— $7,141 to renovate the DCSS’s federal programs office.

— $10,750 for 32 pulse learning systems.

— $12,840 for classroom wiring.

The letter adds, “ In addition to the questioned costs, it appears that the Title I Director for the DCSS is not signing off or approving these expenditures prior to them being submitted.”

None of this comes as a shock to DCSS Board member David Maschke.

“No, I am not surprised. We’ve been questioning these costs for years,” Maschke said. “What is perplexing to me is that they (the State DOE) previously audited FY2011 and gave us a clean audit. Now they have come back after the FRM (free and reduced meals) concerns and begun taking a closer look. I also question previous state audits on our SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) money.

“It makes me wonder what good the state audits are when board members are finding the problems and not the auditors themselves.”

When asked if he was concerned about being placed on a “reimbursement basis” by the state, Maschke replied, “no, I’m not worried about that. We’ve built up a pretty good reserve and can function under a “High Risk” designation until the state reimburses us.”

Just more than two months ago, DCSS Executive Finance and Operations Director Ken Dyer said the District had nearly $11 million in reserve money.

“This ‘High Risk’ status will mean closer scrutiny and an annual audit of our federal funded programs and we welcome that scrutiny,” Murfree wrote. “Until these issues are resolved, we will inform the board and public of our status with Race to the Top (RT3), School Improvement Grant (SIG), Title II-Part A, Title III, and Limited English Proficient funding status that is managed by the district’s Curriculum and Instruction Department.

“Also, we will inform the board and public of our status with the Title I program. The district understands the importance of ensuring clear and concise operational and procurement practices.

“Therefore, the DCSS school board and the school district will work closely to address and correct any and all inadequate policies, procedures and various fiscal processes.”

Comments

VSU 1 year, 5 months ago

I wonder who wrote that speech for him.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 5 months ago

Every member of the Dougherty County School Board is guilty of malfeasance, non-feasance and misfeasance for their failure to terminate this man immediately and replace him with an interim superintendent. Dr. Murfree must go now! I am e-mailing all school board members with the message to replace Dr. M now.

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tywebb 1 year, 5 months ago

He still has that "something on my upper lip stanks reals bad" look in this picture!

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saveourcity 1 year, 5 months ago

34 is toast. If he didn't have board support at the last meeting, he certainly won't have any additional support in January.

I would love to see his explanation of all of the misspent Title 1 monies. A full and complete list is on another news site. Look for letter #2. Ipods, laptops, netbooks, incorrect travel expenses, food, trinkets for school stores....... all charged incorrectly to Title ! funds. Some were even charged incorrectly by the Director of Title ! programs! The system is a joke and #34 and his entire crew need to be let go.....at once! January cannot come fast enough.

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waltspecht 1 year, 5 months ago

Why does it have the taste of a seasoned Politicians speech. Assuming no blame and not really laying out in depth corrective action? While no one was convicted, the actions still did in fact occurr. Had they not been brought to light in the Public Knowledge base, I believe they would still be going on. As not just the Parents benefitted, but the whole School System benefitted from increased prrogram head counts resulting in increased funding. We had best keep a close eye on all the School Systems, as funds are about to become hard to come by with the automatic cuts which should take effect in January.

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TheBoss 1 year, 5 months ago

As one that has read plenty of Murfree's emails to DCSS employees, this response wasn't written by him. This statement has complete sentence structure and proper use of the English language.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

His attorney wrote it. Also no mention of any culpability for anything that was done improperly.

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dingleberry 1 year, 5 months ago

The DCSS needs an "operational audit" that looks at the "how and why" of spending funds not just the proper recording of transactions as with a financial audit. Essentially what the board members are doing in isolating and examining transactions is what an operational auditor would do. If you look at all the financial audits done by the State Auditors in local school systems, the search would be long to find a report that identifies a problem of any significance.

We have been making the wrong kind of audit in school systems and local governments for years. If you look at 100 audits in the State Auditor's files done by either the Auditor or CPAs, you will most likely find "zippo" of value--time and money spent on nothing. And the product produced leads to comments like Maschke's "asked and answered" statement below:

“It makes me wonder what good the state audits are when board members are finding the problems and not the auditors themselves.”

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

If an operational audit can be "forced" on the DCSS, the taxpayers would be "money ahead". As David has pointed out, the present audit coverage is a waste of time and money.

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

And somebody needs to look at why DCSS spent $94,500 federal funds at Callaway Gardens in FY 2011.

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 5 months ago

I looked into that several months ago and saw that those costs were inline with many similar Districts throughout the state. It was a state-mandated cost.
That's why if you click on the Nov. 5 list of questionable expenditures above, that item is listed.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 5 months ago

I would say we have a problem in all the districts if that expense is considered OK.

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Amazed2 1 year, 5 months ago

Just agree to pay #34 thru his contract, take his keys, change the locks and say goodbye Mr. #34. Then clean house on his sidekick assistants while your at it. ByeBye

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waltspecht 1 year, 5 months ago

If nothing else, it is now in the open what a cash cow Education is. For years the costs have continued to rise, and the results plummet. One has but to look at the cost of College. The thought is the money is out there, lets charge all we can get and leave the students with the bill. It isn't just the public sector, but the private sector is also milking it. Truck Driving Schools taking in students that are Diabetic knowing full well they will have a very hard time finding ajob driving a commercial truck. The on line Colleges etc. It all started when the GI Bill first came out, and has steadily grown since then.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 5 months ago

Since the new amendment passed, you will see charter schools crop up around Albany and other areas. It will not be a racist thing, but you will see the better students leaving the public schools. I was against the amendment, but it may be the best thing to happen to the area in a long time. The brighter better behaved students will be removed and can get a good education to succeed in life. The school systems had better perform for you now have competition.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

And that's why I voted YES on Amendment 1.

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

The hold back to charter schools will be getting the money to set them up, not a matter of hard to demonstrate need. DCSS is the poster child for proponents of Amendment 1, and certainly not the only case in our area. Local schools have become a big jobs program and a virtual piggy bank with "education" taking a seat at the back of the big bus.

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URWrongAgain 1 year, 5 months ago

Are you saying the Charter Schools will recruit only the best and brightest? That's a sobering thought. I didn't vote for Amendment 1 and pray to God it wasn't passed to do what you say it will. Was the amendment really about segregating students based on ability/behavior? If so it will (and should) be challenged in court. If you're really about education, then prove to me you can serve the hard to serve population. Will be interesting to see. what happens. Providing an avenue for students who excel is indeed a great thing, but it won't prove anything about the effectiveness of charter schools other than they are some type of Utopia for privileged. I pray that is not the case.

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AuntieDee 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm with you on this one. It's my understanding that the operational funds will come from public school funds.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 5 months ago

Not privileged, bright. It is not a racist thing. You have very potentially great students who have to sit in classrooms with former alternative students whose only goal in life it to act up. Put 5 of those in a math class and the year is lost. These are students who will be unable to go. There will be stricter rules too.

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URWrongAgain 1 year, 5 months ago

The term "segregating" in this instance didn't imply race. However, I'm concerned that students who need help the most will be "left out in the cold." You have potentially great students who are often mislabeled because of circumstances beyond their control (home environment, lack of resources, finances, etc) that don’t allow them to excel at the same pace as others. My fear is that as perceived by many, the charter schools will only be a safe haven for "bright" students rather than an enhancement that will affect the totality of education in the region.

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BettyBowTie 1 year, 5 months ago

Ability and behavior? I should hope so. Currently good kids that work hard are held down by kids that could care less about school and end up getting arrested by school cops, then bailed out by Murfree.

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TheBoss 1 year, 5 months ago

Everyone please open the PDF file in the bottom left side bar and look through the 35 pages and read what the GaDOE is upset about. Like $360+ for travel expenses from Albany Middle School to SAMs, GRLS, Harvey’s and the Post Office.

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

A more sobering experience is if you look at all expenditures by DCSS at the open.ga.gov website, the entire list, broken down by fiscal year.

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

When looking at the list of what is questioned, the question in my mind is whether that questioned was a sample, most likely, or a look at every transaction. Regardless, it shows me that those involved in processing and approving expenditures are not doing a very good job.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

The man in the picture above "don't know if he's walkin' or ridin'".

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saveourcity 1 year, 5 months ago

what blows my mind is the fact that the person that is SUPPOSED to be responsible for approving and signing off on title1 expenditures is herself accused of inappropriate expenditures. not only is she not signing off on the expenses, she doesn't even know what expenses are allowed and what is not. As a businessman, if this were happening in MY company, that person would be fired.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

She was the Director, was paid over $100,000 per year (plus benefits) and her excuse was "nobody wrote down for me how to do my job".

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stc1993 1 year, 5 months ago

No not fired, never hired in the first place. How can someone hire someone that doesn't know what they are suppose to do.

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Bulldawg 1 year, 5 months ago

Why doesn't the school board fire Dr. Murfree? I know that he was asked to resign by James Bush and he refused. I would like to know why the school board is not pursuing this issue with more vigor? I am sure it has to do with some legal issue regarding the way in which Dr. Murfree is terminated.

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saveourcity 1 year, 5 months ago

Why should he resign? He is paid a ton of money, but apparently doesn't have to do anything.

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Bulldawg 1 year, 5 months ago

He should resign because he was asked to do so by the school board. This would also be the honorable thing to do. At this point, however, I think that honor has been thown out the window.

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 5 months ago

I think he gets 1/2 his annual salary if he is fired, or some other ungodly amount of money...

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whattheheck 1 year, 5 months ago

Money well spent just like we do with football coaches who lose. We want winners, not losers. That's why we selected the best candidate for the job without regard for race, religion, creed, sex, height, weight, or intelligence! lol

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

Actually Murfree WAS selected based on his race and his religion (wife big friends with A W-B and involved with her church in Hawkinsville). The bow ties are just a bonus!

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Bulldawg 1 year, 5 months ago

Ha Ha!! Good one, Sister. My father always told me never trust a man who wears a bow tie. :)

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tocar 1 year, 5 months ago

Good bye, so long, Mr. Murfree. Please go back where you came from and do what is right for our children. You have been a joke since day one #34.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

"Where he came from" sure don't want him.

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doingwhatisright 1 year, 5 months ago

Whooah...11 million in reserve? the teachers were told, no money ....so.... "work adjusted" days, limited supplies,limited funds, increased class sizes...what the hell? SICK OF LIES!!

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Amazed2 1 year, 5 months ago

Well they need 11 million in reserve with #34 and his sidekicks spending it.

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Amazed2 1 year, 5 months ago

Hey whats de accounting code for Jail Bond? What we do with dat? Maybe just use Student Development or Other.

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badheavychevy 1 year, 5 months ago

Poor teachers in the system are being told their is no money for anything extra at all. No money for field trips, no money for extra officers or teachers, no money for the sports programs, no money for pay raises, no money to repair broken air conditioners, no money for better lunches, no money for textbooks, no money for nothing!!!! But they have 11 million dollars in reserve??????

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