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Knox Co. R-1 School District Underpaid For Last 3 Years
By Echo Menges
According to the Knox County R-I School District Superintendent, Andy Turgeon, and the Knox County Clerk, Marlene Spory, a miscalculation in the amount of money allotted to the school districts within Knox County from the Railroad and Utilities Tax has occurred.
“How this was all discovered was because KCR-I was apportioned more money this year than the prior three years. So they contacted me to see if the figures were right,” said Spory.
During the initial figuring KC Clerk Spory enlisted the help of former Scotland County Clerk Betty Lodewegen, who had been helping Spory learn the process of appropriating county funds. They double and triple checked their numbers finding the original figures to be paid for 2010 were correct, which raised a red flag that the KCR-I School District received less money than they should have not only for the previous year, but also for the previous three years. They contacted the Department of Education and the State Auditor to report the miscalculation.
Preliminary findings are showing that the money that should have gone to the KCR-I School District from the Railroad and Utilities Tax have gone to the wrong school districts instead. There are three other school districts whose boundaries cross into Knox County; they are the Brashear R-II School based in Adair County; the LaPlata R-II School based in Macon County; and the Highland C-I School based in Lewis County.
The Knox County Clerk’s Office is not saying how much money was overpaid to which districts because those figures are still being calculated.
“It appears to be a substantial amount,” said Knox County Attorney Jo Fortney. “In fairness to everyone involved we’re not releasing the amount until the other districts have the opportunity to confirm how much they got.”
According to Fortney the county’s official next step is to send letters to the school districts who received too much money from Knox County giving them a deadline to respond and confirm the county’s figures.
“How the school districts that were over paid respond will dictate the next step of the county,” said Fortney. “Those school boards will have to make a decision as to how they want to proceed.”
According to Fortney the process of which districts owe and how much they owe will be between those districts and Knox County not the KCR-I School Board.
“As a checks and balances system the money will go back to the county and the county will distribute it to where it is supposed to go,” said Fortney. “These are big dollar amounts for schools in a time of budget crisis. We are trying to be fair to everybody.”
KCR-I Superintendent, Andy Turgeon, said the money from the Railroad and Utilities Tax was originally earmarked for “Debt Service” so when it finally comes back to the KCR-I School District it will ultimately end up paying for things like building improvements.
“At this point we’re just waiting to see what those figures are going to be,” said Turgeon.