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Springfield Public Schools audit starts in October

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A state performance audit of Springfield Public Schools will begin in October, in accordance with a citizen-initiated petition drive submitted to the state auditor's office last fall.

Missouri Auditor Susan Montee will meet with the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Room A at the Kraft Administrative Center, 1359 E. St. Louis St., to discuss the auditing process before the board and allow board members to ask questions, according to an SPS news release.

The meeting is open to the public, but no time is set aside for public questions.

The audit could take more 12 months to complete and cost the school district approximately $180,000, the release said.

"The state auditor’s office has informed the school district that audit staff will be on site beginning in October to initiate fieldwork," SPS Chief Financial Officer Steve Chodes said in the release. “During this phase, which could last several months, audit staff will gather information and documents, interview SPS staff and review policies and procedures.

In a statement posted to the SPS Web site on Aug. 26, Superintendent Norman Ridder said the school district will work closely with the auditor's office throughout the duration of the audit.

"The board and I have said since the petition drive for an audit began that we welcome the state auditor’s scrutiny, and we are confident that the auditor will find the state’s second-largest school district to be one of the most efficient and effective," he wrote in the statement. "Please note that any feedback provided by the auditor will be used to help us implement changes to become a more high-performing system. "

Chief petitioners for the audit were Tom Gargus and Carl Herd, said state auditor Director of Communications Allison Bruns.

Gargus is a member of the city of Springfield's Citizens' Sales Tax Oversight Committee, and Carl Herd is a member of the city's Police and Fire Pension Fund citizens' task force and a former teacher.

Bruns said 5,066 signatures were needed to trigger the audit, but 5,202 signatures were gathered. The number of signatures needed on audit petitions depends on the voting numbers associated with the area's political subdivision, she said.

The audit is currently listed as pending on the auditor's Web site.

During the audit, the school district will post continual updates online, the release said.
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