MOUNT VERNON — Personnel costs are a large part of school district budgets, and instructional materials, buses and utilities are major outlays. The districts can make adjustments to reduce those costs, but some expenses cannot be controlled by the local school boards. There are numerous state and federal mandates with which the local schools must comply, even though they are unfunded or underfunded by the entity which requires them.
Costs for compiling required data, generating mandated reports and reporting to the state or federal department of education are not under local control. One such expense is the annual audit by the state auditor’s office. School districts must pay for that audit, and the cost is in the thousands of dollars. East Knox, for example, paid nearly $14,500 for last year’s audit, Fredericktown paid $17,568, Mount Vernon paid $17,382, Centerburg paid $17,231 and Danville paid $14,864.
There are also costs related to the accounting system the state prefers, and a fine of $750 is levied if districts choose to use a simpler, less cumbersome accounting method. Danville, East Knox and Fredericktown elect to pay the fine, because it is cheaper in the long run for those districts.