The state Board of Education fined two Oklahoma school districts Thursday for spending too much money on administration.
Cameron Public Schools, in Le Flore County, was fined about $58,000. Thackerville Public Schools, in Love County, was penalized about $29,000.
The fines will be withheld from state aid checks for the rest of the fiscal year, said Nancy Hughes, executive director of financial accounting for the state Education Department.
The board voted 5-1 to levy the fines. Board member Joy Hofmeister, of Tulsa, dissented.
“I agree with the principle of what we're doing, but I'm concerned about who's going to suffer,” Hofmeister said. “What services are lost? Is that a teacher that's being fired because there's no money to pay? How do you deal with that? How does that impact students?”
Other board members said the blame falls on the local school board members, who negotiated the contract buyouts.
“The school board did this,” said board member Amy Ford, of Durant. “This goes to the accountability of the school board.”
School districts are limited to what can be spent on administration according to enrollment.
The fines are equivalent to the district's overage.
Cameron Public Schools exceeded the limit by more than $58,000. Superintendent Jim Caughern wrote a short letter to the state Board of Education explaining the problem.
“The reason for excess of administrative cost is due to the board of education electing to buy out previous superintendent, Carolyn White,” Caughern wrote.
Thackerville Public Schools spent nearly $29,000 too much. A buyout of former Superintendent David Herron pushed administrative costs above the legal limit, according to a letter written by payroll clerk Marcia Bell.