Audit finds issues with Hinds County School District finances

By Steve Wilson
August 12, 2019

The Office of the State Auditor uncovered a raft of issues with the Hinds County School District during a routine audit, according to a release by the office on Monday.

Some of those issues included $50,000 of improper expenses by the district’s finance officer Earl Burke, $54,000 in adjustments that needed to be made to reconcile the district’s bank statements, some credit card statements that weren’t reviewed by the district and $2 million worth of purchases of iPads and Apple laptops that didn’t use a competitive bidding process.

The release also said that auditors found that some spending records had been destroyed before they were reviewed.

Burke, according to audit, was responsible for $50,000 in unauthorized expenses that included:

  • A personal car allowance that added up to $33,000 and was never approved by the district’s board.
  • Used district funds to make personal purchases such as an in-air internet subscription, a stay in a luxury hotel suite and other unapproved expenses that totaled nearly $10,000.

The iPad and Apple laptop purchases went against state procurement laws, which require competitive bidding for most large purchases.

“This uncontrolled and unlawful administrative spending is not acceptable,” Auditor Shad White said. “It shortchanges teachers and students. It’s not fair for taxpayers. They all have a right to be angry about this kind of administrative spending.

“It results in money going outside the classroom and it violates our spending laws. I expect the district to take swift action to make sure this stops.”

In 2018, the Hinds County School District received more than $63 million in operating revenue, mainly from property taxes ($26.5 million) and state and federal funds ($26.2 million). The district went over its budget by $4.46 million in 2018. 

The district spent 44.7 percent of its budget on instruction, with 39.7 percent spent on support services and non-instructional expenses.


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