Lee County school board receives negative review by state officials

State leaders said the Lee County school district needs to make improvements to its allocation of resources. This comes after review of a past audit on the district’s use of millions of tax-dollars.

Superintendent Gregory Adkins and district board members were reviewed by state officials in Tallahassee Thursday to answer questions based on an audit completed in September 2018.

“We’re a big district,” said Chair Gwynetta Gittens of the school board. “We could be not perfect, but a very good 15 is too many for me.”

Fifteen is the number of findings the auditor general tallied in its audit. These are problems ranging from the mishandling of taxpayer money to not having proper policies in place for employees.

Gittens said the audit findings are proof change is needed.

“How long were things wrong?” Gittens said. “It may not have been anything; however, it raises red flags. I think we need to get to a point where there’s not so many red flags, and everything is working smoothly.”

Adkins defended the district during its review by the state.

“We have taken significant corrective action in other cases,” Adkins said. “We believe we’ve documented appropriate and/or best practices and respectively disagree with the findings and prepared to address these areas of concern.”

Board members told WINK News they did not learn about the meeting until this week but said Adkins was aware of the scheduled meeting since Wednesday, Feb. 13. The lack of time to prepare prevented some members from traveling to the state’s capital.

“[Adkins] needs to communicate more with his board and let us now as a board what’s going on and work with us,” Gittens said.

Lawmakers requested the audit be looked at further along with the school district to determine what major and minor issues are.

Communication has been a growing issue between the superintendent and the school board, which has three new members this year. Although Gittens is critical of Adkins, she remains confident the board can be effective with Adkin’s leadership.

“Everybody needs to have the same idea that we’re doing what’s best for the kids, not what’s best for this group or that group,” Gittens said. “But we have to work together.”

Writer:Jack Lowenstein