by Max Brantley
The state Board of Education will meet Monday and topics include a discussion of athletic spending in public schools. One item for consideration is Legislative Joint Auditing's continuing look at how well selected school districts meet the legally required reporting standards on sports spending. The report includes a re-examination of schools that underreported spending by more than 10 percent in the previous audit year.
Here's the most recent audit report. Districts appear to be getting better, though some are still underreporting by significant amounts. North Little Rock and Pulaski County are cited for being particularly out of line. They've underreported spending for three consecutive years and auditors recommend that the department meet with school officials to bring reporting in line. A frequent problem for other school districts was failure to include construction costs for athletic facilities as an athletic expenditure.
Also interesting is the Education Department's report on the latest figures on athletic spending by every school district in the state, broken down into categories such as salaries, travel and maintenance. Some of the figures, for fiscal 2008-09, might surprise you. Little Rock, the state's largest district, was not the leader in athletic spending. It reported $1.8 million in regular schools and a total of about $2 million when magnet school spending was included. Some other top spenders: Benton, $3.4 million; Bentonville, $2.3 million; Cabot, $1.9 million; Fayetteville, $1.7 million; Fort Smith, $4.7 million, Pulaski County, $2.7 million; Rogers, $3.3 million; Van Buren, $2.2 million, and West Memphis, $2.89 million.