To the Editor:
A Facebook group calling themselves “Concerned about Robbinsdale Area School District” has raised several questions about ISD 281 and has put out a call for action requesting signatures to force the district into a forensic audit. While I do not support all of the group’s positions, I strongly support the group and it founders Kelly and Holly Guncheons’ quest for the audit.
When I left 281 Board of Education five years ago, the district had a surplus of funds and had just passed a 10 year operating referendum. Four years later, the district had to go back to the voters for more money. The voters approved that second operating referendum four years later yet still faces cuts due to millions of dollars in budget shortfalls.
The district denies the need for a forensic audit stating the district does the state mandatory audit every year. However, on March 6, 2019, Superintendent Carlton Jenkins and District Finance Manager Greg Hein appeared before the House Education Finance Division and testified that for many years, the district had erroneously paid claims out of its general fund rather than the irrevocable trust. They asked the legislature to approve its pulling of $7 million from the irrevocable trust to reimburse the district.
Had the district truly made this mistake, the fact it wasn’t called out on the annual audit, which is done by the same firm every year, is reason enough for the forensic audit.
While having a history of providing a wonderful learning experience for many, the district also has a history of financial irresponsibility.
It has also based costly decisions on bad advice from consultants only to return to those same consultants to help them correct the expensive problems their advice caused.
There are many other examples of possible waste. A forensic audit will either clear the district of wrongdoing or expose issues that need to be addressed.
I strongly encourage every eligible voter to locate the Facebook page, download, sign and return the petition.
ISD 281 is a wonderful district. The district has amazing teachers and staff. We need this audit to restore community trust.