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Transportation Audit Shows District 113A Owes State Another $260K, Bringing Total to $589K

The Illinois State Board of Education completed an audit of the district's 2009-10 transportation claim last month, finding that another $260,705 is owed for unallowable reimbursements.

Transportation Audit Shows District 113A Owes State Another $260K, Bringing Total to $589K

UPDATED: Thursday, 1 p.m.

An audit of the 2009-10 transportation claim made by determined the district owes the state another $260,705 for "unallowable reimbursements," district officials confirmed Wednesday.

The total owed to the Illinois State Board of Education is now $589,956—.

District 113A Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia confirmed he received a letter from the ISBE External Assurance Division on March 29 regarding the audit findings. Board Member and official district spokeswoman Lisa Wright also confirmed the news.

Patch obtained the official letter Wednesday through a Freedom of Information Act request. (A PDF file of the document can be viewed to the right of this article.)

In the letter, ISBE officials stated that District 113A owes $236,423 for regular transportation during the 2009-10 school year, and another $24,282 for special education transportation, Madonia said.

The money was received by the district during the 2010-11 school year, based on the state's procedure for disbursing transportation funds.

According to the letter, the adjustment was forwarded to the ISBE Division of Funding and Disbursements for application to future claims.

District 113A board members in January after she expressed concern that it was prepared exactly the same as the one adjusted by the state auditors for the previous fiscal year. At the time, Germany estimated the amount owed to be about $295,000.

Germany called the state board about the issue Jan. 25, and just two days later an ISBE representative requested specific documents to audit.

The move came just one month after former District 113A Superintendent Tim Ricker —$305,056 for regular transportation and $23,900 for special education transportation.

Per the state's request, District 113A agreed to pay back the reimbursements by making reductions in excess of $100,000 to its transportation claims over the next three years.

Board members have yet to discuss a course of action for the most recent adjustment, Madonia said.

"The board has not discussed (the audit adjustment) yet or considered options for repayment," he said. "We're in a holding pattern until we have a little more direction from the state."

Wright said the issue will likely be addressed during their next business meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at , 16100 W. 127th St.

According to Madonia, the district will likely have two options for repaying the additional adjustments: pay one-third of the total amount each year for the next three years like the original adjustment, or issue a funding bond that would allow the district to utilize money from the bond and interest fund.

The second option was discussed by the board during a Februrary board meeting. According to Madonia, the money in the bond and interest fund has accumulated to about $1,690,000. The funds, he said, are available to cover general obligation debt.

During the meeting, board members expressed interest in issuing a working cash bond, which would reallocate the money to a new working cash fund. The district is ; approval is required since it would require an update to the district's financial plan.

If the district were to issue a funding bond, it would have no impact on Lemont taxpayers, Madonia said.

Despite the findings of the transportation audit, Madonia said District 113A's plan for financial recovery remains on track.

"Based on current projections, the district will be off the state's financial watch list by June 30, 2013," he said. "The adjustment is large, but we have been fiscally responsible and are in a position to cover our liabilities."

Madonia commended Germany and District 113A board members for responding quickly and taking responsibility for the errors.

"None of the individuals who made those errors are currently working in the district, but we have still taken the appropriate steps to ensure this type of thing does not happen again," he said. "I think there's something to be said for the fact that we were transparent about the issue and immediately notified the state. I don't believe the claim would have been audited if we hadn't been honest about the mistakes."

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