Residents of the Buckeye Valley School District should be pleased the state ordered that nearly $10,000 in misspent funds be repaid to the district, but they should not be pleased that their school board essentially went unpunished.
As we reported last week, the office of State Auditor Dave Yost announced that two companies that had worked for the school district in 2014 had repaid $9,750 to the district after Yost’s office had found that the money was spent on “political activities to help promote” the district’s unsuccessful 2014 bond issue.
In other words, the school board was found guilty of using public funds — your tax dollars which are intended to be spent on education — to convince you to vote for a tax issue. Plainly speaking, that’s just wrong.
State law prohibits public funds from being spent to support or oppose school levies or bond issues, according to Yost’s office.
School district officials insist they did nothing wrong, but the facts speak for themselves. The two private companies have repaid the amount that Yost’s office determined had been spent inappropriately to campaign for the 2014 bond issue.
Yost’s office says it now considers the matter closed.
But we don’t.
First, we’re not sure why the two companies in question were forced to repay the funds. They presumably performed duties that they were hired by the board to perform. Why should they be forced to pay for the school board’s bad judgment?
Second, why were there no sanctions against the board members and administrators who cooked up this plan? If an infraction occurred (and there apparently was), the punishment should be meted out to those who misspent the money. Instead, the board goes unpunished and a casual observer might actually think that the board recovered the $10,000 for taxpayers. It was $10,000 of your tax dollars that should never have been spent in the first place.
The goal of the 2014 bond issue — to build two new elementary schools for the district — was eventually met when a similar 2015 bond issue was passed by a mere two votes.
So this chapter in Buckeye Valley’s history is apparently closed. However, we’re disappointed in Auditor Yost for not holding the real offenders accountable.