Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fayette Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton: Audit affirms no money missing

This from FCPS Supt Tom Shelton in  H-L:
Dear FCPS Families:

The release of the Auditor of Public Accounts' review this morning affirms the fact that there is, and never was, any money missing in the Fayette County Public Schools. We also welcome the assurance that there has been no criminal activity. It is vital for our community to hear that all public dollars are accounted for and that the allegations of improper journal entries causing a budget shortfall are absolutely not true.

The report also shows that tough decisions lie ahead for our district. Many of the findings contained in the auditor's report are deeply troubling and I assure our employees, families, and community-at-large that our leadership team will not allow adult issues at the district office to distract from our core mission of serving children.

Early in my tenure, I recognized that despite previous attempts to address the issues, significant areas of dysfunction resulting from a serious lack of communication and professionalism continued to exist between the Department of Budget and Staffing and the Department of Finance. We had begun taking steps to correct these problems prior to the Auditor of Public Accounts' examination.

The state auditor's recommendations reinforce our belief that we must overhaul the operations of our budget and finance departments. We will strengthen, formalize, and communicate improved policies, procedures, and practices related to budgeting, accounting, internal auditing, trust fund administration, salary determinations, travel, and procurement in order to address the weaknesses identified.

At 1:30 p.m. today, we will host a press conference to respond fully to the audit report. The press conference will air live and be replayed on cable Channel 13, will stream live on the district website at, and will be available for viewing on demand afterward on both the district website and YouTube channel Please feel free to share this email with your constituents and contacts so they can watch too.

Despite our agreement with much of the report, we must point out that some of the state's assertions are based on faulty calculations, factual errors, and false assumptions. There are serious inaccuracies in four of the report's 10 findings. We also take issue with the language in the report that seemingly vilifies one employee while minimizing the impact of the mistakes of others. Portions of this review amount to little more than "he-said-she-said."

The district's full response to the audit, along with the evidence disproving many of the allegations is available at That is also where we will provide updates about our work to address the findings and improve our organization.

We concur with the auditor's findings that we must improve our budget and finance policies and management, and acknowledge that the relationship between the Department of Budget and Staffing and the Department of Finance was toxic. However, we vehemently disagree that the deficiencies in our system put the district's financial situation in jeopardy or impacted our ability to provide an excellent education for the students of our community.

In the Fayette County Public Schools, every action we take and every decision we make must be centered on doing what is best for the students we serve. Accomplishing this mission will require a profound shift in the behaviors, habits and culture in our district's central office. We cannot and will not allow personality conflicts to keep us from doing what is right.

There is nothing in this report that we cannot address and improve. Every organization can find ways to work smarter and more efficiently. We will endeavor to garner trust and public confidence by doing what is best for kids, being responsible stewards of tax dollars and providing honest, proactive, consistent and responsive communication. Over the next 60 days, our top administrative priority will be to embrace these recommendations and develop a comprehensive corrective action plan for the Board's consideration.

We know that our district must make substantive changes in order to respond to the shortcomings in current operations. We will need the commitment of our entire team, from the board room to the classroom, to embrace these changes and make progress. Thank you for your continued support of the work we do for the children of Fayette County.

Sincerely, Tom Shelton, PhD Superintendent Fayette County Public Schools

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