State auditor general sends team to review school finances
By Paola Iuspa
Accountants from the state's office of auditor general are joining the Miami-Dade Public School District's finance department for this year to scrutinize the agency's money-spending habits.
The auditors will review the district's buying processes, land-acquisition practices and review its budget and staffing allocation procedures, according to a letter from the auditor general to Miami-Dade Superintendent Roger Cuevas.
The special team of three auditors, created during the 2001 legislative session, has already moved into the school board's building off Biscayne Boulevard. The trio will pair up with two auditors the state sends every three years to school districts for routine financial audits, said David Martin, manager for school district audits in the office of Auditor General in Tallahassee.
The team is to write a report by June 30, 2002, addressed to the school board and the legislature, he said.
State Rep. Carlos Lacasa, chairman of the appropriations committee, said the legislature allocated funds, about $310,000, for the special audit team in an effort to understand why the Miami-Dade County school district, with an estimated $4 billion budget and about 360,000 students - is always short of money.
Mr. Martin said Miami-Dade's school district, the fourth-largest in the nation, is the only county whose finances will be under supervision by such a state team, which is made up of certified public accountants from the auditor general's office.
"I am not aware," he said, "of any other district that has been under the supervision of a special team of auditors.
"We will focus on where the money is being spent. They will be looking into auditing transactions and records, complementing what the routine-audit team will do. We will develop other tasks as we move along."