Charter school deficits grow in Florida, audit reports
A growing number of Florida charter schools had operating deficits at the end of fiscal 2012, compared to a year earlier, according to a newly released report from the Florida Auditor General.
The report states that 58 charter schools, or 12 percent, had a general fund deficit at the end of the fiscal year, up from 25, or 6 percent, at the end of fiscal 2011. The list included two schools in Hillsborough -- Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate and Mt. Pleasant Standard -- and three in Pinellas -- Newpoint, Pinellas Primary Academy and Plato Academy Seminole.
The document also indicated that 25 charter schools had significant material weaknesses in their financial controls, including concerns over accuracy of financial statements, separations of duties, and qualifications of personnel assigned to financial work. Three of the charter schools where material weaknesses were found are part of the McKeel charter system, associated with state House appropriations chairman Seth McKeel of Lakeland.
The Auditor General recommends the Legislature consider heightened reporting requirments for charter schools facing deteriorating or troubled financial conditions.