Spence Jackson, media director and spokesperson for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich and staff, said it was premature to speculate on the costs of a compliance audit that will be initiated this month. Rockwood issued an announcement Monday, as well as posting on the district's website, that the estimated cost of the compliance audit is $180,000.
, based on the Rockwood announcement.
"We're not sure where Rockwood got that cost," said Jackson. "We haven't yet met with them and don't know exactly what the scope will be or how long it will take to complete. Until we meet, we don't have a cost estimate."
Jackson said perhaps Rockwood officials based the estimate on the costs of a similiar audit done for a Springfield-based district.
He said it is accurate that Rockwood will not be charged for this compliance audit. He also said it was true that the audit is being done, in part, due to concerns raised by Rockwood residents. A Rockwood watchdog coalition group called began a petition drive last fall for a state audit of the district, but the drive did not result in the required number of signatures to demand a state audit.
Jackson said their audits are a totally open process. In fact, anyone will be able to witness the conversation the state auditors' staffers have with Rockwood's board of education directors at the July 12 board meeting.
"It would be hard for our auditors to give specifics about time and cost until they've had a look around," Jackson said.
He said the state auditing team tries to provide a thorough and complete review of any of the entities being audited. But through following professional courtesy, Rockwood—just like all entities—will be the first to be provided with the state's preliminary assessment. "They may answer questions that we had, and explanations of why certain items aren't really violations. We then let citizens know if the entities agree with our recommendations or not," he said.
A good example of this was the recent state audit report completed with Monarch Fire Protection District. See related article:
Patch asked Jackson why it had been 18 years since Rockwood had been audited by a state team. He said Missouri's State Auditing Office only was given the authority to audit school districts in the last few years when state statutes were changed.
"Before changes in Missouri's law, there were only two ways for a school district to be audited: through a petition, or by a directive from the governor," said Jackson.
He said the state teams desire to provide residents with clarity about their associated entities. "Our reports are generally well-received and most audited groups find them very useful recommendations."
"Our intention is not to dwell on the past, but just to fix problems and move forward, allowing entities to operate on firmer ground than perhaps they had in the past," said Jackson.