BC Education System Creaking, Cracking, Croaking!

 

I just published in a local blog the following comment on mismanagement and "accounting errors" in Langley School District.  I infer from my comments that this may not be the only jurisdiction with major bookkeeping and reporting flaws. I am calling for a full-scale forensic accounting examination of the accounts, reporting and due diligence of the school board.

BC Education System is Creaking and Cracking and Croaking.

(by Tunya Audain, comment published 090911, in The Report Card blog by Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun education reporter on topic: “Education Minister and quote of the month” 090910)

Look at the Langley school district fiasco — a $4.8 million deficit suddenly balloons into $8.3 million due to “accounting errors”.    That $35,000 paid by the School Board for a financial “review” is peanuts compared to what a proper forensic accounting examination would cost.  But, it would be worth it.  It would ferret out, item by item, digit by digit, the cause and effect of the problem revealed by the shocking and stunning disclosures this week.  It’s not as if there weren’t warnings and red flags all over the place.  They were there, but were snubbed and dismissed.

A proper forensic accounting report, I think, should be properly and appropriately ordered and financed by the Provincial Government.  It would:

–   Catch what the board’s auditor and external review failed to catch
–    Provide an accurate account of assets and liabilities
–    Discover if there has been deception, cover-up, fraud
–    Determine if proper accounting procedures were followed
–    Establish if there was proper reporting and administrative response
–    Check if the board of trustees were well-informed in a timely manner for decision-making and oversight
–    Examine if proper accountability procedures were in place and followed
–    Determine if the law has been broken
–    Provide evidence for future litigation if supporting data is revealed
–    Comment on whether a “blind eye” was turned on complaints and alerts by members of the public
–    Further the public interest  
–    Clarify the language used in reporting to the public and media, eg, what constitutes “cost pressures”

Whether small or large corruptions are found, or none at all, mistakes have certainly been made and incompetence has been acknowledged. It’s not just “underfunding” that’s brought on this state of affairs.

A recent research paper, entitled: Corruption and Educational Outcomes: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back by Francis Huang  http://journals.sfu.ca/ijepl/index.php/ijepl/article/viewFile/142/59

says :  “…corruption has the potential of holding back or sabotaging a country’s education progress – much like taking two steps forward and one step back…turning a blind eye to it does not make it go away but actually encourages it. Eliminating corruption involves a culture change and a shift in mind-set along with the implementation of accountability systems and processes.” 

Huang further elaborates that it’s no surprise that corruption might occur in education systems world-wide (she studied 50 countries) because “education is the largest or second-largest budget item in most countries and opportunities for corrupt practices are numerous.”

Given that last observation, shouldn’t the whole Ministry of Education and all boards have forensic accounting reports done?  At $8,323 per child shouldn’t we want to know what percentage of that actually reaches the target?

Or are we funding a self-serving industry, serving selfish vested interests?  Only a credible, in-depth examination will tell us if the present model is effective and efficient or if we need to search for better models of education delivery.
 

 

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