Missouri auditor to review Rockwood schools
BY ELIZABETHE HOLLAND — email@example.com | Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 12:05 am
Missouri plans to audit the Rockwood School District after a request from residents concerned with ties a School Board member has with the district's longtime construction "program manager."
"Rockwood is on the audit plan," Vanessa Chandler, a spokeswoman for the auditor's office, said Wednesday night. Chandler said the office hopes to begin the audit in the second half of the year but added that it's possible it could be delayed depending on other audits the office is required to conduct.
The residents group, Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions, requested the audit over concerns regarding board member Steve Smith but has since shared other concerns with the state, said Eileen Tyrrell, the group's founder.
Smith — the board's president until December, when he stepped down from the leadership post but remained on the board — has been at the center of a controversy over his dual roles as a board member and project coordinator for Glenn Construction Co., which has overseen all of the district's bond-related construction projects for the last 14 years.
To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Smith has abstained from voting on Glenn-related matters, as well as issues regarding retiree benefits and health insurance because his wife is a former Rockwood teacher and the two buy health insurance through the district. His wife also has worked as a paid consultant to the district in the time Smith has been on the board.
The Post-Dispatch first reported on those issues last fall, while also disclosing the longtime relationship between Glenn and Rockwood that has continued with little or no competition from other firms.
The residents group learned late last month that the auditor's office had tentatively scheduled Rockwood for an audit but waited until Wednesday to make that public. Tyrrell said the group had wanted to give the district the opportunity to announce the audit at a board meeting, but that no announcement had been made.
A district spokeswoman reached Wednesday night said Rockwood had not received notification from the state of plans for an audit.
Tyrrell's group launched a petition drive in the fall for an audit but found that many residents were hesitant to sign a petition district leaders might see, Tyrrell said. Despite the state's plans, Tyrrell said the group will continue collecting signatures in an effort to guarantee an audit should there be any delays.
The district was last audited by the state in 1994.