Three school districts paid too much for administrative costs this year, according to the state Education Department. The districts face fines equal to the amount they overpaid their administrators. Here is information about each case.
• Cameron Public Schools, in Le Flore County, exceeded the limit by more than $58,000. Cameron Superintendent Jim Caughern wrote a one-sentence 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.” The district hasn't broken the rule before. Cameron received a C under the new state school evaluation system.
• Thackerville Public Schools, in Love County, 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. “Our school had to buy out his contract beginning with February 2012 and ending in June 2012,” Bell wrote. “The amount of $32,659.35 was how much our district had to pay Mr. Herron for the remainder of his contract.” The district hasn't exceeded the cost rule in the past. Thackerville received a C under the new state school evaluation system.
• Farris Public School, in Atoka County, went over by nearly $10,000. Administrative costs were too high because of the superintendent's salary, said Nancy Hughes, executive director of financial accounting for the state Education Department. Hughes said the district also exceeded the legal limit in 2006 and 2007. Superintendent Wes Watson earns $100,000 a year, according to state data. He serves as superintendent, principal, counselor and librarian for the school. Watson wrote a letter to the state Board of Education, stating that low administration limits have put undue pressure on small districts. “The actions of the state and the state department of education has created an unfair atmosphere for small school districts to operate in,” he wrote. Farris received an F under the new state school evaluation system.