The News Journal is reporting Indian River lost their referendum by a mere 30 votes, with 3,321 for and 3,351 against. It reminds me of a recent election in our country. I have no doubt the district will roll the dice with a 2nd attempt in the next couple of months. But the district has to own up to the audit investigation last week. By stating the referendum has nothing to do with that report, they are shooting themselves in the foot. I have a very hard time with Susan Bunting and her credibility at this point. If Patrick Miller, the former CFO, was controlling everything with finances in the district then she let him do that. She turned a blind eye to what was going on and that shows a clear lack of leadership. As well, the Board has the capability of determining the district’s finances.
Bunting said issues need to be addressed across the board to ensure the referendum passes if it is held again. Although an audit was released late last week detailing financial issues over the past five years, Bunting said she won’t blame the audit for the failure for the referendum to pass.
If it was one year or possibly two that Miller played with school finances, that would be one thing. But this went on a long time. Even more frightening that it took tips to the Auditor’s office to get to the bottom of it. Not only was Bunting and the Board asleep at the wheel, so was our state. What happened in Indian River should give our legislators a wake-up call as well. They should somehow get funding from somewhere and beef up the State Auditor of Accounts Office. Every school district and charter school in this state needs a thorough audit. We cannot continue like this. Our children lose every single time. All this talk of extra funding for schools… the funds are already there. We just need to redefine the existing funding and find a system where those funds are used equitably for all students. We can’t afford to stick with the status quo and then act shocked when we see reports like the Indian River one last week.