Audit: ‘Lack of communication’ blamed for school district transportation overcharges

DOVER — A lack of communication on a legislative change led some school districts to overcharge the state a combined $652,524 in transportation-related funds last fiscal year, an audit determined late last month.

The confusion centered around since-removed Delaware Code that allowed school districts to earn partial Transportation Supervisor unit funding based on number of students taken to school. The General Assembly removed the language completely in 2011 but State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts found “school districts not earning Transportation Supervisors continued to fill out and cash partial units because they believed (the subsection) was removed in error.

The Delaware Department of Education and Office of Management and Budget are seeking that the deleted language be returned to the current budget epilogue, according to the auditor in a four-page report issued on April 23.

The auditor’s office noted that “DOE personnel are in agreement with the school districts and believe that the deletions were made in error.” The auditor recommended that the DOE follow Delaware Code and not allow school districts to receive funds for Transportation Supervisor partial units.

“We also recommend that DOE implement a process to communicate legislative changes that affect unit funding to the school districts,” the report advised.

The review commenced as the auditor’s office was inspecting authorized positions and discovered some school districts were paying a Transportation Supervisor with state funds, the audit explained. An inspection of all 19 school districts was ordered to check compliance to Delaware Code.

Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Christiana, Colonial, Indian River and Red Clay all earned a transportation supervisor unit and were not affected by partial credits.

Districts that did not earn a unit but used partial units included Cape Henlopen, Capital, Lake Forest, Laurel, Milford, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Polytech, Sussex Tech, Seaford and Smyrna. Woodbridge and Delmar cashed out partial units but did not earn a transportation supervisor unit, the audit found.

According to the auditor’s calculations, the state potentially overpaid $409,342 in salary dollars, $209,767 in benefits and $33,415 in cash out option not earned.

The DOE said “the districts are responsible for verifying and maintaining administrative unit and position record detail that qualifies them to request an administrative cash option,” according to the audit.

“DOE verifies that the option request calculations are prepared in accordance with Delaware Code. However, 2 of 12 districts that did not earn a Transportation Supervisor unit were granted cash options for partial units by DOE even though Delaware Code does not allow for partial units for Transportation Supervisors.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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