The State Auditor’s Office says a special investigative report of the Mason City Community School District shows more than $2.2 million dollars was not properly spent during an eight year period.

The report was requested by school board member Jodi Draper after an August 2017 report showed the district improperly disbursed just over $109,000 between July 2014 and June 2015. State Auditor Mary Mosiman in the new report identifies more money that was not properly spent between July 1st 2009 and August 31st 2017.

Mosiman says former superintendent Anita Micich approved the improper payments without school board approval. “Mainly this is salary that was improperly paid to administrative staff, and we go into great detail in this particular report, but one of the key things that we’re trying to report is that salary increases are approved by the board, but the board was not aware how the salary increases were allocated amongst the various administrative staff,” Mosiman says.

That amount includes: $1.3 million of contract salary issued to various school district administrators; $217,405 for the district’s share of FICA and IPERS on the improper payroll; $387,682 of district contributions to TSA accounts for various district administrators; $171,998 for the resignation package awarded to the former superintendent Anita Micich; and $117,551 of vacation balance payouts to various school district administrators.

Mosiman says Micich approved those disbursements by using an electronic signature outside the presence of the school board. “These contracts should be reviewed and approved by the board, and in many of cases of these salary increases, the board was not aware because electronic signatures were used outside the board’s knowledge, which is similar to what we identified in the re-audit in 2017,” according to Mosiman.

Mosiman says the $1.3 million  of improper contract salary identified is comprised of actual salary issued to 66 employees which exceeded the authorized salary calculated using the percentage increases approved by the board and other monetary benefits, such as vehicle and cell phone allowances, awarded to employees without a provision in their contract and/or approval by the school board.

Mosiman says the school board should always be aware of what financial decisions are made. “The code is pretty specific when it comes to what the board should be approving and when an electronic or facsimile signature is to be used, and in this case the board was not aware that some administrative staff were receiving as high of a percentage as they were. That’s what we identified in great detail in the report,” she says.

Mosiman says during the period that Micich was a shared superintendent between the Mason City and Clear Lake community school districts from 2010 to 2016, Clear Lake was overbilled $7,370 for its portion of Micich’s salary and benefits. Mosiman recommends the Mason City school district strengthen its internal controls and overall operations, and that the school board or a designated board member should perform an independent review of payroll to ensure approved salary increases are properly calculated and applied.

Mosiman says copies of the report have been filed with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Here’s the report: Mason-City-Schools-investigation-PDF

(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)