Fayette County overspent school budget by $1.2 million - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Fayette County overspent school budget by $1.2 million

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FAYETTE COUNTY, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A state audit shows the Fayette County School System is more than $1 million over budget.

So, what is next for the already cash-strapped school system?

State auditors found the Fayette County school system overspent its budget last year by more than $1.2 million.

The system's rainy day fund is down from $1.4 million to only $295,000.

"It's a terrible mess and it's hurting our children very badly," said parent Shirley Scullark.

According to the audit, the school system amended its budget several times without approval by the county school board or the county commission.

A large part of the overspending came from inflating school board salaries.

"I'm hurt, because a lot of this is going to affect our children's education, directly or indirectly," added parent Melody Morman.

Parents like Shirley Scullark blame former school Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray, who is now the superintendent for the Jackson, Mississippi public schools.

In a written response, Dr. Gray blames inexperienced staff and new accounting software for the money mayhem.

"He was in the system at the time if happened. The finger points itself," Scullark continued.

"That's our money and it's supposed to be for our children," Morman said.

In addition, school system employees were overcompensated on health insurance premiums.

That resulted in additional costs of more than $200,000.

In one case, the system entered into lease agreements for copy machines worth more than $700,000.

They did so without competitive bids.

"They need to prosecute them. I'm just being honest with you. Those people that did it, they need to bring it back up. They need to find out what they did. They're supposed to bring it up and prosecute them, don't just let that go," Scullark said.

Current Fayette County School Superintendent James Teague told Action News 5 that he is working to make sure these same mistakes do not happen again.

District Attorney Mike Dunavant and the TBI will also review this audit to see whether to pursue criminal charges.

To review the complete audit, click here: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/

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