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Monday, July 30, 2012 - 3:31pm

State Freezes Federal Funds

The Georgia Department of Education is refusing to release ten million dollars in federal funds to Dougherty County Schools.

State officials are concerned the county may be inflating how many students need free and reduced lunches.

The southwest Georgia county has 30 days to fix the problem.

Dougherty County found out that a school principal who made 90 thousand dollars a year was having her child get free and reduced lunches. So was a school board member.

Scott Austensen, chief financial officer for the state education department says that raised questions involving all OF the school’s federal programs.

“What is unique about Dougherty County is the issues are broad. And primarily because the issue relates to the free and reduced lunch rate. And the free and reduced lunch rate is the basic element in most of the formulas.”

Tommy Campbell, an attorney for the school board, says they will resolve the issues in time.

“There may be a lot of problems administratively, but I think they will be substantially worked through and the funds will be released in time.”

Campbell says he expects the county will end up having to pay back some funds to the federal program.

There were also problems with contracts. Campbell
says an internal investigation found oversight gaps.

“My study found that there were widespread disregard for the policy adopted by the board with regard to purchasing of all kinds. And a number of contracts had avoided board scrutiny.”

He says they found a 91 thousand dollar contract that was never passed by the school board.

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