- The Achievement School District inappropriately charged the School Improvement Grants program for expenditures incurred before the award was effective and failed to adequately review invoices paid to Charter Management Organizations, resulting in federal questioned costs of $193,241 (p.32-33)
- The ASD Failed to Adequately Review CMO Invoices (p.33-34).
- The ASD Accounting Manager and Accounts Payable Clerk processed 5 invoices, totaling $477,166.14, without the documented approval of the Public Grants Manager. (p.34)
- $66,366.18 in unsupported expenditures charged to School Improvement Grants, resulting in questioned costs for personnel, textbooks, travel costs, benefits overpayments, and salary miscalculations. (p.34)
- On 2 invoices, a CMO billed ASD for expenditures before the vendors were paid. (p.34)
- The ASD blamed some of these errors on "high turnover in its Public Grants Manager position during the fiscal year." The State Comptroller determined that "when the position was vacant, no other employee assumed the role of reviewing and approving invoices in order to mitigate the risk of paying inaccurate, unsupported, or fraudulent invoices. By not ensuring that invoices are properly reviewed, approved, and adequately supported, ASD runs the risk of paying CMOs for activities that are not allowed under federal program requirements." (p.35)
The ASD has LOWER TCAP test results than when those schools were public schools.
Now, read how the ASD wants to enroll students from outside ASD zones to boost test scores and get even more money...
However, Barbic failed to mention that parents have submitted a petition with 78 pages of signatures to the Memphis school board asking them to remove their school from Barbic’s expanding charter school empire. Parents aren’t “voting with their feet” to attend charter schools after all.
Parents are smart to avoid ASD-operated charter schools. ASD schools are under-performing district-run schools in Memphis (http://www.bluffcityed.com/2014/09/just-facts-asd-vs-izone-performance/). Even the ASD’s most touted school in Nashville, Brick Church Middle, is under-performing its district-run counterpart, and it’s clear from an independent report that the ASD takeover of Brick Church created a terrible environment for the students and staff alike.(http://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/22/asd-riles-parents-community-school-takeover/20648199/) Furthermore, a recent audit shows that the ASD has been mismanaging public funds, including federal money.(https://norinrad10.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/time-to-end-the-asd-fiasco/) But the ASD continues to expand over parent protest, most recently by cherry-picking the highest performing priority school in Nashville to help boost its own miserable test scores.
The ASD was supposed to be a boon for national charter school operators like Rocketship. Barbic and Kevin Huffman recruited Rocketship and others to Tennessee with the promise of dozens of schools that they would take over. Tennessee has rigged its accountability system to place over 80 schools on a “priority school” list that charters can target for takeover. So far they’ve taken over 22 schools in Memphis. But students zoned for those schools taken over by Barbic's charter school cronies have stayed away in droves, most opting to stay with schools run by the local school board. This has upset private operators who were promised full schools if they came to Memphis.
In order to fill up the empty seats, Barbic wants to take kids out of schools that are performing well and put them in the state’s worst performing schools, all to protect the bottom lines of charter school operators. Students abandoning ASD schools are also impacting Barbic’s own bottom line. He can’t afford to hire enough teachers to comply with the state class size requirement, but he has found a way to solve this problem by increasing class sizes at ASD schools. He was recently was granted a class size waiver by the newly appointed Commissioner of Education, Candice McQueen. This week, he testified at the legislature that the ASD class sizes are 14-15 students, but the waiver allows him to expand his class sizes far beyond this number.
In Tennessee schools must be held accountable to some of the highest standards in the country - unless there is a profit motive involved - and then the powers-that-be not only look the other way, they actually work to create more opportunities for students to attend schools that the state has labeled “failing"!
If Barbic is working to place students enrolled in high achieving schools into “failing” ASD schools, he is obviously not concerned about the best interests of Tennessee’s students. He is concerned about the best interests of his charter operator buddies and his own bottom line.
- written by a TN parent and published on Diane Ravitch's blog 3/2/15