State finance staffers looking at Huntsville City Schools finances

Huntsville City Schools is looking at a major deficit by the end of September 2019.

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 10:46 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 8:21 AM

The Huntsville City School District may not need an audit to fix the financial issues the district is facing.

Alabama State Department of Education Finance staff are in Huntsville looking at the books right now.

The last time the state department of education came in to help the district with finances was 2011 when the district was $20 million in debt.  The situation now is not that dire, but the state is back again to help.

David Rorex has two children in Huntsville City Schools.  "I'm always concerned when I see a shortfall," said Rorex.

The shortfall is projected to be $16 million by the end of September 2019 if the district does nothing. 

Right now the finance staffers in town from Montgomery are going over the books and will be able to identify where the district is spending too much money.

"It's accountants taking a look at everything and seeing where the mistakes are. It absolutely is, but it's not a formal audit. The formal audit takes months and months and months," said Huntsville City Board of Education President Elisa Ferrell.

Right now there is no timeline for when the state finance staff will determine where the district went wrong. What they find could determine whether the district does an audit or not.

"I think it depends on what they give us and that's a board decision, so if the board wants to move ahead we need to get prices," said Ferrell.

One board member wants an audit to be done no matter what and they would prefer the state send in an audit team.

"We need an audit and we need someone to come in who is unbiased, doesn't have any connections to the city schools," said Board Member Michelle Watkins.

WAAY 31 asked the state department of education in an email what the process would look like for a state run audit and if the state, or Huntsville City Schools, would pay for it, but we haven't gotten answers to our questions yet.

Rorex said its money well spent to do an audit to find out what happened and who is to blame.

"I think it would be better for the state to come in. It would just be a little more transparent," said Rorex.

According to Ferrell, budget cuts throughout the district could happen depending on what the state finance staff finds.

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