SMITHVILLE — Many Smithville community members have questions surrounding a potential state audit of Smithville School District due to differing information on social media and information coming from district staff.
Most recently, a resolution for a state audit was tabled during a regular board meeting June 19.
“I, as your superintendent, do not want a state audit. I recommend you do not approve a resolution requesting a state audit,” Superintendent Todd Schuetz told board members at the meeting. The superintendent said what he wants even less than an audit is one the district has to pay for, recommending the issue be tabled for reconsideration to avoid an expenditure if leadership feels a petition is gaining enough signatures to force one.
Regardless of a resolution, Press Secretary for the State Auditor’s Office Steph Deidrick said the auditor’s office has authority to audit any publicly-funded Missouri school district whenever it wants and would not need a formal request to do so.
“If the determination is made that an audit is necessary, the auditor’s office will communicate that with the school district,” Deidrick said. “That determination is based on available resources and the seriousness of potential wrongdoing. It’s also worth noting that when the auditor’s office has launched an audit of a school district at the request of a district in the past, it was typically because of a specific concern or issue related to wrongdoing.”
Deidrick used two districts as examples, one which identified a discrepancy in financial records and the other related to questionable practices by a former superintendent. Additionally, she said the office has not received any whistleblower contacts related to the Smithville district.
“I enthusiastically voted to pay more in taxes to support our district and kids,” petition supporter Trinda Wolfe said in an email, “only to learn later that this district is nearly a million dollars in the red after the tax increase. We are losing many valuable educators and programming and instead of enforcing existing behavior and drug policies, this district would rather outsource it to strangers.”
Chief petitioner Lisa Taylor was unable to provide comment by deadline as to why she seeks a state audit of the district.
Wolfe said she is beginning to see problems at the administrative level leading her to believe the Board of Education will just “stamp” whatever is handed to them for approval.
“There isn’t substantial discussion at the board meetings,” she said. “Why this is so controversial and why the administration is having a panic attack over it, I’m not sure.”
According to Assistant Superintendent Wayne Krueger, he has received zero calls or efforts from citizens to communicate about the budget.
“We were ready for them,” he said gesturing to the podium for public comment at the meeting, relocated to the center of the room from its usual spot along the wall. No one came to speak on the issues related to random student drug testing or a potential state audit of the school district.
The problem with a state audit is cost, Schuetz said, as resources the district has are limited. An audit is estimated to cost up to $65,000.
Krueger said the petition to audit feels punitive.
“Who are they trying to punish?” he asked. “This will only hurt our kids.”