Shelton Promises Action On District Dysfunction
FCPS superintendent Tom Shelton is pledging “bold action” to counter the dysfunctional environment within the district uncovered in the state audit.
Despite referring to the report’s findings as “deeply troubling,” Shelton told reporters Wednesday many of the findings were not news to his office. He said efforts were already underway to address tensions between staff and questionable budget practices before the allegations of mismanagement surfaced.
"The added scrutiny uncovered many of the same findings that our auditor found, including budget figures that had been changed without board or superintendent knowledge, 'plug figures' being used to make budgets appear balanced, and improper financial reports being used the development of the budget," he said.
While Shelton said the lack of illegal activities in the report should reassure taxpayers that all public money has been accounted for, he acknowledged that it will take time to rebuild trust as the district moves to overhaul its budget process and mend rifts between the finance and budget departments.
"We'll begin to work in the area of conflict resolution, team building, to deal with our staff, to work through the personnel issues that we have experienced," he added.
Fayette County Public Schools officials now have 60 days to deliver a comprehensive corrective action plan to be submitted to the state auditor. A short-term advisor from the Kentucky Dept. of Education is also set to guide the budget and finance offices through a restructuring effort.
A number of findings in the auditor’s report did not meet with district agreement, however.
Shelton made a point of challenging the statement that administrative staff received significantly higher raises than teachers between 2010 and 2014. He said all employees who stayed in the same positions received the same pay increases.
While the superintendent emphasized the lack of any criminal findings in the audit, Shelton acknowledged that responsibility for the district’s issues ultimately rests with him. Shelton said it will take cooperation between his office, the school board, and staff to fix the internal problems that have plagued the district for years.