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PUSD has an App

Whoosh, whoosh goes the pendulum.

Need one auditor.

Whoosh, whoosh goes the pendulum.

Need another auditor.

Oh well, never mind.

Just need the one.

So the Payson School Board last week once again changed its policy on annual financial audits, trying to keep up with the flippy, flappy sound of flip-flopping down at the state Capitol.

“This is another example of the Legislature using a sledge hammer to hunt flies,” said Payson Unified School District Superintendent Greg Wyman at the June 10 board meeting.

So let’s back up a bit.

Back in 2018, the Scottsdale Unified School District superintendent and chief financial officer were indicted for steering contracts to family members and people with whom they had business interests. The school officials are facing multiple felony counts for violating state conflict of interest and contracting rules.

The district subsequently fired the indicted school officials.

The Legislature then rushed to enact reforms to strengthen conflict of interest and contracting rules for school districts.

The reforms only affected traditional district schools, not charter schools. The privately owned charter schools are still exempt from most of the contracting and oversight rules that apply to traditional districts. For instance, many charter operations routinely turn to family owned businesses or subsidiaries to build schools with taxpayer money. The school building operations often make far larger profits than the school teaching operations. One state lawmaker recently sold his interest in a chain of charter schools for $12 million, although most of the assets of the school chain had been built with taxpayer money, through bills he helped steer through the Legislature.

But never mind that. This is about K-12 traditional district schools.

One of the enacted legislative reforms said districts could not hire the same auditor to review its books more than three years in a row.

So Payson adopted the new rule.

The law of unintended consequences quickly took effect.

Rural districts like Payson discovered the rule significantly drove up the cost of doing audits — since each new auditor had to get up to speed and the number of qualified, competing auditors was small in rural communities.

Districts complained.

So this year, the Legislature did away with that particular new rule.

“It was just a knee-jerk reaction at the state level to Scottsdale Unified. It would have driven the cost of auditing substantially higher,” said Wyman, “without necessarily helping the situation.”

So the school board changed its policy back.

Contact the writer at paleshire@payson.com

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(1) comment

Phil Mason

I will not give this outrageously misleading article much time, but I cannot ignore one obvious false assertion by the author. To wit: "One state lawmaker recently sold his interest in a chain of charter schools for $12 million, although most of the assets of the school chain had been built with taxpayer money, through bills he helped steer through the Legislature." This assertion is so replete with false innuendo that it fails the basic credibility to justify the ink to print it. Charter schools - including the one alluded to - operate with less funds per student than ANY District School. In fact, the largest revenue stream to District schools comes from local property taxes that is not shared at all with Charter Schools. Charter schools must acquire and maintain their facilities without ANY taxpayer funds. In addition, they actually PAY property taxes on those facilities that are then handed over to District schools. It is unfortunate that district school advocates must attack those who provide a higher level of education with a much lower cost to the taxpayers. They would do better to simply step up their game and eliminate the need for families to choose the additional time incl transportation costs they pay. I have had personal disagreements - indeed combative verbal conflict - with the aforementioned legislator and am not on his Christmas Card list. However, his organization has a stellar record of providing a top notch educational experience at a savings to taxpayers for those families who CHOOSE to send their children to those facilities. Having Mr Aleshire print multiple articles every week with inaccurate propaganda is a disservice to Payson, the Roundup and all the subscribers who pay to get accurate news insights. We can do better.

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