Archive for Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Basehor-Linwood program target of possible state audit

April 19, 2000

The recent development and growth of the Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School has spurred interest across the state.

So much interest, in fact, that other school districts are interested in starting up similar programs. And that's prompted a request for an audit of the Basehor-Linwood program.

A state representative asked for the audit because the district's charter school is pulling in more money than it costs to operate.

According to district numbers, the charter school re-ceived $1,131,000 in state funding for the 1999-2000 school year. During this time, total expenditures were budgeted at $803,754.

State Rep. Deena Horst, R-Salina, a member of the House Education Committee, said she requested the audit after several people contacted her questioning the program.

"One of them was a school superintendent in a small district near Salina who was concerned that there at least appeared to be monies being used for schooling home-schooled children, and that this was state money being used in a private setting," Horst said.

Also, Horst said she and other members of the education committee received a letter from a home-school parent who has two children enrolled in the Basehor-Linwood VCS.

"There was concern that the school district was receiving a whole lot of funding for their children that they were receiving very little of," Horst said.

Cal Cormack, assistant superintendent for Basehor-Linwood, said the school district has worked closely with the state through the development and enactment of the virtual charter school.

"While we're not building a building or equipping a classroom for the charter school, we do have enormous costs regarding the technology we have to have in place, and there's the unseen cost associated with learning to interact with the students, parents and families who are accessing our school out there through the internet," Cormack said.

The district has placed a computer in the home of every enrolled home-schooler. To go along with that, teachers in the district have complete Web sites for their classrooms so students can have Internet access to teachers and course information at home.

Now in its second year of operation, the VCS has more than 300 students. Cormack said he expects there will be at least 350 VCS students during the 2000-2001 school year.

As far as the state audit, Cormack said he's not worried.

"As the virtual charter school has developed, we've worked with the state education department all along the way," Cormack said. "We also met with one of the legislative subcommittees. They visited the charter school and spent the afternoon with us. When they left, they were very comfortable with us."

State Rep. Ken Wilk, R- Lansing, a member of the House education panel, said he has heard questions about the VCS from members of both the House and Senate.

"There's just a lot of questions surrounding the whole virtual education program," Wilk said.

"I don't think anybody is alleging any kind of wrongful activity this is just something that's brand new and people want to know more about it."

Even though the audit has been requested, this doesn't mean it will necessarily happen, said Rick Riggs, of the state's Legislative Division of Post Audit.

In response to the audit request, the Basehor-Linwood sent a written review of the VCS services and funding to the state.

"We have sent that response to the members of a subcommittee of the post audit committee," Riggs said.

Depending on the subcommittee's opinion when it meets this week, it's possible the post audit committee could request a performance audit.

"We do between 20 and 25 performance audits a year," Riggs said. "A performance audit looks at issues like efficiency, effectiveness and compliance with state laws or regulations."

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