$2.2 Million Improperly Spent by Mason City Schools

The State Auditor’s Office says a special investigative report of the Mason City Community School District shows more than $2.2 million was not properly spent during an eight year period. The report was requested by school board member Jodi Draper after an August 2017 report showed the district improperly disbursed just over $109,000 between July 2014 and June 2015. State Auditor Mary Mosiman the new report identifies more money that was not properly spent between July 1, 2009 and August 31, 2017. Mosiman says former superintendent Anita Micich approved the improper payments without school board approval.

That amount includes: $1.3 million of contract salary issued to various school district administrators; $217,405 for the district’s share of FICA and IPERS on the improper payroll; $387,682 of district contributions to T-S-A accounts for various district administrators; $171,998 for the resignation package awarded to the former superintendent Anita Micich; and $117,551 of vacation balance payouts to various school district administrators. Mosiman says Micich approved those disbursements by using an electronic signature outside the presence of the school board.

Mosiman says the $1.3 million of improper contract salary identified is comprised of actual salary issued to 66 employees which exceeded the authorized salary calculated using the percentage increases approved by the board and other monetary benefits, such as vehicle and cell phone allowances, awarded to employees without a provision in their contract and/or approval by the school board. Mosiman says the school board should always be aware of what financial decisions are made.

Mosiman says during the period that Micich was a shared superintendent between the Mason City and Clear Lake community school districts from 2010 to 2016, Clear Lake was overbilled $7,370 for its portion of Micich’s salary and benefits. Mosiman recommends the Mason City school district strengthen its internal controls and overall operations, and that the school board or a designated board member should perform an independent review of payroll to ensure approved salary increases are properly calculated and applied. Mosiman says copies of the report have been filed with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.