«TITLE PAGE(S) Schedule of Officials and Relevant Individuals 1 Report of Independent Accountants 3-6 Supplement to the Special Audit Report: ...»
ELECTRONIC CLASSROOM OF TOMORROW
FOR THE PERIOD OF JULY 1, 2000 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2000
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Schedule of Officials and Relevant Individuals 1 Report of Independent Accountants 3-6
Supplement to the Special Audit Report:
Background Information 7-10 Issue No. 1 Obtaining an Understanding of the Enrollment Process 11-20 Issue No. 2 Review of Enrollment in September and October 2000 21-25 Issue No. 3 Review of Monthly Reports Submitted to ODE 26-30 Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County This page intentionally left blank Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County
SCHEDULE OF OFFICIALS AND RELEVANT INDIVIDUALSAs of 12/31/00 ECOT Board of Directors Term Donald Wihl, Chairman 07/01/00 - 06/30/01 Sherri Dembinski 07/01/00 - 06/30/01 Harry Beale* 07/01/00 - 06/30/01 Donald Lumpkin* 07/01/00 - 06/30/01 Clyde Card* 07/01/00 - 06/30/01 ECOT Administrative Personnel Dr. Coletta Musick, Superintendent** Gail Davenport, Director of Educational Services*** Altair Learning Management LLC William Lager, Chief Executive Officer Fiscal Agent Lucas County Educational Service Center Legal Counsel Amy J. Borman, Esq.
Udell & Boreman Lucas County Educational Service Center Tom Baker, Superintendent Richard Cox, Treasurer * In May 2001, these individuals resigned from the Board of Directors and were replaced by N. Eugene Brundige, Carolyn Nellon, and Cynthia Baird.
** Ms. Musick resigned in December 2000.
*** Ms. Davenport resigned on May 5, 2001.
Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County 1 This page intentionally left blank Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County 2 88 East Broad Street P.O. Box 1140 Columbus, Ohio 43216-1140 Telephone 614-466-4514 800-
Mr. N. Eugene Brundige, President Board of Directors Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow 3700 South High Street Columbus, Ohio 43207 We have conducted a “Special Audit” and performed the procedures summarized below and detailed in our “Supplement to the Special Audit Report,” which were agreed to by you for the period July 1, 2000 through December 31, 2000 (“the Period”). These procedures were performed solely to obtain an understanding of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s (“ECOT”) process for enrolling students and obtaining funding for enrolled students; determine whether ECOT received funding for only eligible, enrolled students; and whether the Ohio Department of Education’s Regional Coordinators performed a review of the monthly enrollment reports submitted by ECOT. This engagement to apply procedures was performed in accordance with standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The sufficiency of the procedures is solely the responsibility of the users of the report. Consequently, we make no representation regarding the sufficiency of the procedures discussed below for the purpose for which this report has been requested or for any other purpose. The procedures we performed and the results of those procedures are
summarized as follows:
1. We obtained an understanding of ECOT’s process for enrolling students, providing educational services to the students, and preparing requests to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Regional Coordinators for funding of students served. In addition, we obtained an understanding of the process followed by ODE to calculate the amount of funding due to ECOT for the services provided.
Significant Results - ODE or ECOT’s sponsor, Lucas County Educational Service Center, has not provided written guidance to ECOT regarding the basis for funding student services nor the documentation required to be maintained to support enrollment and attendance. Seven months into the academic year, ODE Office of School Finance notified the Auditor of State that it would only fund students beginning with the student’s first log-in to the ECOT system. During September and October 2000, ODE paid ECOT $1,688,836 for students who did not meet this definition. ODE should develop a written funding agreement within 30 days of the issuance of this report or cease payments to ECOT to prevent continued funding of students who may not be meeting ODE’s definition of what constitutes “enrolled” for a computer-based community school.
The Xerox system did not accurately track and record the amount of computer-based instruction received by students. We noted instances where the system recorded unrealistic amounts of computer-based instruction. For example, students received greater than 24 hours of instruction in one session. Additionally, ECOT did not review and monitor the amount of computer-based instruction recorded by students. Again, we noted instances of unrealistic entries. For example, one student recorded 10,000 minutes in one session. It is likely that the amounts of computerbased instruction recorded by both the Xerox system and students is unreliable and inflated. ECOT should establish procedures to monitor instruction time claimed by students and correct the system deficiencies which record computer-based instruction time.
Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County 3 Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow Franklin County Report of Independent Accountants Page -2ECOT did not have any written policies or procedures for enrolling students. As a result, the September and October ADM reports contained 106 instances in which the reported student was either less than 5 years old or greater than 21 years old contrary to legislated age requirements.
We recommended ECOT establish policies and procedures which ensure enrolled students meet legislated age requirements.
Due to their inability to provide computers to students at the beginning of the school year, ECOT used hard copy lessons mailed to students as an alternative to computer-based instruction.
However, ECOT was unable to identify the students required to complete and return the hard copy lessons because ECOT did not maintain a listing of students who received hard copy lessons during the Period.
2. We obtained the September 2000 and October 2000 ADM reports used by ODE in determining ECOT’s funding for those months. For purposes of illustration, we recalculated the funding that would have been due to ECOT based on the number of students who actually logged in during those months, i.e., the definition of “enrolled” for funding purposes that ODE did not adopt until March 30, 2001.
Significant Results - ODE paid ECOT based on an estimated enrollment and expected attendance rather than actual recorded hours of computer-based instruction. For September, ODE paid $932,030 in Basic Formula funding for 2,270 students although only 7 students logged-in to one of the available computer-based instruction systems. For October, ODE paid $983,750 in Basic Formula funding for 2,346 students although only 506 students logged-in to one of the available computer-based instruction systems. Using actual hours of recorded computer-based instruction as the basis for funding, ODE paid ECOT $1,897,192 for which there is no documentation to support actual hours of computer-based instruction. We understand the need to fund community schools based on estimated enrollment while not in session. However, we recommend that while in session, community schools be funded based on actual attendance and in the case of ECOT, based on actual documented hours of services provided.
For all community schools, ODE should complete annual enrollment audits within 90 days of the fiscal year-end to identify any monies due back to ODE for instances of overfunding. In regards to ECOT, we understand the potential overfunded amount may exceed the approximately $1.9 million noted in this report. Any money due back to ODE as a result of overfunding should be spread over a reasonable period so as not to cause a financial hardship on ECOT.
3. We reviewed the September and October 2000 ECOT Monthly ADM reports to determine whether the resident districts returned the reports to ODE by the due date to allow any errors in enrollment to be taken into account when calculating ECOT’s funding. We reviewed the reports returned by the resident districts for evidence of review by the districts. We reviewed the September and October 2000 enrollment reports for obvious discrepancies.
Significant Results - ODE Regional Coordinators do not consistently review monthly ADM reports returned by resident districts for errors nor consider those identified errors when calculating the amount of State funding due to ECOT. ODE paid ECOT $87,508 for 19 students identified by resident districts as not to be included in ECOT’s funding from the respective district.
ODE should begin monitoring the financial operations of community schools on a monthly basis.
This monitoring should include student records, accounting operations, and financial reporting.
ECOT corrected various errors on its monthly ADM reports submitted to the ODE Regional Coordinators. However, the funding related to these errors was prorated and returned to the effected resident districts over the remaining months of the fiscal year rather than entirely at the time the error was noted. When ODE receives notification of an error by a community school, the money incorrectly deducted from the resident district should be returned to the resident district in one lump sum.
4. On October 4, 2001, we held an exit conference with the following Officials representing ECOT:
N. Eugene Brundige, President, ECOT Board of Directors Jeffrey P. Forsia, Superintendent, ECOT Scott Kern, Manager Information Systems, ECOT Mike Bradley, Consultant, ECOT Brian Usher, Consultant, ECOT Bill Lager, CEO, Altair Management Company Tom Baker, Superintendent, Lucas County ESC David Varda, Assistant Superintendent, ODE Holly Miller, Assistant Legal Counsel, ODE Jeff Jordan, Associate Director of Goods Management, ODE The attendees were given an opportunity to respond to this Special Audit. We received a written response from ECOT dated October 19, 2001 and a written response from ODE dated October 26,
2001. Mr. Tom Baker, Superintendent of Lucas County ESC, stated he did not intend to respond.
The responses were received, evaluated, and changes were made to the report as we deemed appropriate.
ECOT’s response indicated that they believe that funding should be based on learning opportunity rather than enrollment. Ohio Revised Code Section 3314.03 defines required terms of the community school contract of which one of the required terms is that the school will provide 920 hours of learning opportunities. However, Ohio Revised Code Section 3314.08 indicates that school funding is based on the number of students enrolled rather than the number of hours of learning opportunity. Additionally, this Section requires ODE to adjust the funding to reflect any enrollment of students for less than the equivalent of a full school year. ECOT was not able to provide documentation that once a student was enrolled at ECOT, the student remained enrolled and received services.
Our detailed procedures and the results of applying these procedures are contained in the attached “Supplement to the Special Audit Report.” Because these procedures do not constitute an examination conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, we do not express an opinion or limited assurance on any of the accounts or items referred to above. Also, we express no opinion on ECOT’s internal control system over financial reporting or any part thereof. Had we performed additional procedures, or had we conducted an examination of the financial statements in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, other matters might have come to our attention that would have been reported to you. This report relates only to transactions relating to the above procedures, and does not extend to any financial statements of ECOT taken as a whole.
Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Franklin County 5 Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow Franklin County Report of Independent Accountants Page -4This report is intended for the use of the specified users listed above and should not be used by those who have not agreed to the procedures and taken responsibility for the sufficiency of the procedures for their purposes. Reports by the Auditor of State are a matter of public record and use by other components of state government or local government officials is not limited.
Jim Petro Auditor of State June 26, 2001
BACKGROUND Since 1997, Ohio law has permitted the creation and operation of community schools as an educational alternative to the traditional public school districts. Community schools are public schools that are funded annually by the State of Ohio according to certain formulas that are based on the number of students who are enrolled in the community school. Ohio Rev. Code § 3314.08(D). The law directs Ohio Department of Education to “adjust” its payments to a community school “to reflect any enrollment of students in community schools for less than the equivalent of a full school year.” Ohio Rev. Code § 3314.08(L).
On October 14, 1999, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) was incorporated as an Ohio Educational Non-Profit corporation to operate a community school in the State of Ohio. The five incorporators were Donald Wihl, Clyde Card, Sherri Dembinski, David Brailsford, and Diane King. The purpose of ECOT was to provide distance learning via the internet to enrolled students in grades Kindergarten through 12.
In late 1999 and early 2000, William Lager, Chief Executive Officer of Altair Management Company LLC1, (“Altair”) and Kim Hardy, Mr. Lager’s partner in Altair, approached the Lucas County Education Service Center (Lucas ESC) about sponsoring a community school. Mr. Lager provided a preliminary application to the Lucas ESC Board of Education for its approval. Mr. Lager then presented ECOT to a five member board appointed by Lucas ESC for its approval. Once the five member board approved ECOT, Mr. Lager presented the final application to the Lucas ESC Board who voted in June 2000 to enter into a contract to sponsor ECOT as a community school.