MASON CITY, Iowa- The Mason City School Board addressed a re-audit Monday, which showed more than $2M in improperly spent funds. The investigation covered spending between July 2009 and August 2017.
Former State Auditor Mary Mosiman said more than $1.3M of improper payments were in salaries paid to 66 school district employees. The report also stated that during the time Dr. Anita Micich was shared superintendent for Mason City Schools and Clear Lake School Districts. Mason City over billed Clear Lake by more than $7,000 as part of the sharing agreement.
During the public forum portion of the board meeting, only one person took the podium, former Mason City Schools Union Board President Katie Koehler.
“This board has worked very hard to be collaborative with the teachers,” she said.
The board said it has put in place safety nets to ensure this doesn’t happen again; all raises must now be signed by the school board president, the union president will sit in on finance meetings and wages will be put in spreadsheet form for the board to review. The board said it is working.
“With the audit done on our new superintendent and our finance director, they came back clean,” said School Board President Jodi Draper. “It shows that our internal controls we set in place are working.”
Other members expressed disappointment about receiving hate mail during the probe.
“In the world we live in it’s instantaneous,” said Draper. “We expect answers but there is a process that needs to happen in order to make sure you get everything right.”
The spending scandal has tested the emotions of all parties.
“I’m very emotional so if I cry life goes on,” said Koehler.
Those we spoke with said it is time to focus on bettering Mason City Schools and let the legal system sort the rest of audit findings out.
Draper explained that the findings are now out of their hands and in the hands of the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office and DCI.