Manatee County School District defends audit findings to lawmakers

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MANATEE COUNTY, FL---  The Manatee County School District is making an impact on Florida lawmakers.  District officials were in Tallahassee responding to the finding from the state audit report released last month.

"Its one of the worst situations I've seen in the year that I've been on the Audit Committee," said Representative Ray Rodrigues.

Rep. Rodrigues isn't the only legislator reacting to the detail of the Manatee County School District's financial and operational audits.   "In terms of school boards, this without question is one of the most severe," said Rep Lake Ray, the chair of the Joint Audit Committee. 

Ray says state lawmakers sat through a pretension which detailed years of mismanagement in the district.  "There was something to the order of 33 to 35 different findings of issues that had some compliance problems," added Ray.

According the report released by the State Auditor General's Office the district has more than $9 million in questionable spending.  Lawmakers say the concerns vary from how district employees used tax revenue to them failing to implement procedures to protect their financial health.

"There were issues with how funding was handled, how deficits were handled, and things that just shouldn't have happened in the school district," added Ray.

But despite the findings there is a silver lining for the Manatee County School District.

"We were extraordinary impressed with the presentation that was made. They gave us a complete breakdown, point by point saying here were the findings of the audit and here is what we are doing and here's what we will further do to correct," Ray said.

But not everyone is so optimistic, for many parents news of the action plan to repair the district financial problems is being met with mixed feelings.

"I think its too far gone to fix," said parent Mark Cunningham.  "I think they need to work on it really hard," added another parent.