in Houston, Texas
Austin-area school system uses accounting loophole to use money against voters' wishes, watchdog group says
Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010, 10:18AM CST
By Lynn Walsh

An Austin-area school system is spending voter-approved bond money without getting approval from the district’s board of trustees, and it’s all thanks to an accounting loophole, a citizen-watchdog group says.

Loophole


The Eanes Independent School District is asking voters to approve a $150 million bond program at the polls on Tuesday, but one group of concerned citizens is coming out against the proposal because of how the district previously spent voter-approved bond funds.

According to The Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes, the school district did not spend money from a previous bond in 2006 on the projects it promised it would. According to a recent post on its website:

Eanes ISD voters approved $53 million of school bonds in 2006 based on representations by the Administration that monies would be spent for specific projects, including $3 million for Safety and Security and $12 million on technology. The Administration has only spent $1.5 million on security and $9 million on technology, an approximate $4.5 million shortfall for their intended use.

In an interview with Austin’s KXAN television station, an Eanes ISD district spokeswoman said, “The money that was spent for the 2006 bond program was reclassified for accounting purposes but absolutely all of that money was spend the way it was defined.”

Because the money from the bonds was given a new accounting classification, the EISD board of trustees did not have to approve the spending changes associated with the bond money, according to CAEE.

The ability of the district to reclassify the funds allows the district freedom to spend the money they way they want and not necessarily the way voters want, the watchdog group said.

“Our Board and Administration have great latitude to spend this money as they see fit, despite representations to voters."

Watch the KXAN story below for more.

Contact Lynn Walsh, Lynn@TexasWatchdog.org, 713-228-2850 or on Twitter @LWalsh.

Photo by Mark A. Taff, used under a Creative Commons license via Wikimedia.

Comments
Lane
Wednesday, 10/27/2010 - 12:09PM

The district is not 'bound' to use any dollars for any specific purpose. Promises made to get approval expire when the polls close. Buyer beware!

Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes
Wednesday, 10/27/2010 - 11:23PM

Thank you for sharing our message on this issue. At a board meeting tonight, one of our Directors continued to dig into what happened, and was stonewalled further.

No urgency or want from the Superintendent to set the record straight.

She promised to get him answers next week, as her schedule was busy.

Amazing how with the $150 million bond election being next week, it will be after the vote that we get some answers.

Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes
Wednesday, 10/27/2010 - 11:35PM

We've also had two board members call for an ethics review of the Superintendent due to what is believed to have been ethics violations related to her outright advocacy of proposed school bonds and denouncing of opposition arguments, all using district resources. Two Board members requested the District's attorney submit the actions of the Superintendent to the Texas Ethics Commission and to the Travis County Attorney for review in order to determine if the actions and documents were permissible under District policy and State law.

More in the link below.

http://eanesbond.org/486/eisd-board-members-call-for-ethics-review/

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