The below spreadsheet is the result of scanning a dozen PDF documents and formatting them for Excel, into pivot tables for easy analysis. Peak to Peak's data is already in XLS format and was added for comparative purposes.
As per this month's post-meeting Board Newsletter, the Stargate Governance Board is holding two Finance Town Halls:
Wednesday, March 7, 6:30pm at Elementary Commons
Thursday, March 8, 8:15am at Elementary Commons
The newsletter states, "Questions can be sent in advance via a Google Form (links below) to help frame the discussion. Additional time will also be available for more questions at each session."
Please consider submitting your questions via the Stargate form, first:
Then consider posting your finance questions, exactly as you have submitted them.
You have two options:
1) Comment on the Facebook Post.
2) Use SurveyMonkey, so you can remain anonmyous, and the admins will post them for you.
Your participation will help provide the Community with a preview of the topics that will be covered at the Finance Town Hall Meetings.
Between June 1, 2017 and November 27, 2017, Stargate Charter School was listed as “delinquent for failure to file Periodic Report” through the Colorado Secretary of State. Did you notify the authorizer, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, of this change in status, as per the charter agreement’s term: “The School shall immediately notify the District of… Any change in its corporate status with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office or status as a 401©(3) entity, if applicable”?
The school’s CFO has disclosed that a former contracted volleyball coach was operating with the school under a “verbal agreement.” Have you performed a 1099 Form audit of all current and past independent contractors to ensure written agreements are/were in place rather than “verbal agreements,” as was requested in the February 21, 2018 governance board meeting public comments and by email to the board Treasurer?
Per the CFO, the school’s former contracted volleyball coach used the gym for his private club team for nearly two years without paying rent via a “verbal agreement”. Was the value of the gym rental, estimated at several thousand dollars, included in his 1099 or W-2 as per the IRS rules related to bartered services?
Unlike all nearby charter school bylaws, Stargate’s Bylaws state that the Treasurer officer role is “optional”: Section 6.6 Treasurer (Optional) The Board, at its option, may appoint a Treasurer, who shall have such duties as the Board deems appropriate. Will this board work to remove the “optional” designation on this very important officer role to ensure that the board takes seriously its fiduciary duty regarding the school’s finances?
Lynne Allen, CFO, described at the February 21, 2018 board meeting how she is a “one man band” in terms of the school’s finances. This is in contradiction with the 2015 bond disclosure agreement, which states “Ms. Allen will serve as the chief financial officer for the Charter School, with a staff accountant at each location.” Given this promise to bond holders and the $12M annual budget, does the school plan to hire the two referenced accountants to ensure it is in compliance with its bond commitments?
In the February 2018 board meeting, the CFO stated that “one of my goals this year is to quantify that [internal controls] are in writing so that there’s a document available for everybody out there including the board of what our internal controls looks like”. I fail to comprehend how “internal controls” that are undocumented, and therefore fungible, provide any form of control. How has the board approved the audits with no documented internal controls? How has the board met its commitments to bond holders and the district to provide financial oversight if it has not required internal controls to be documented?
Given the lack of internal controls we have noted this past year, what is the board doing to put in place the checks and balances which will lessen the chances for misappropriation of funds moving forward?
Checks are being made out for fundraising cash box purposes. What are the processes you have been using to ensure that money raised at fundraising events reaches the school’s bank account?
The PCard statements and check registers show numerous “head of school discretionary” purchases, as noted in the check description. This is an inappropriate description of the item purchased. Having items purchased via this fund should not preclude their details from being disclosed to the community. Will the school work to disclose “HOS Discretionary Fund” purchased item details?
Last summer, $210K was approved by the board to use for a one-time “incentive” for teachers. Never before had fundraising dollars been used for operational expenses, and these foreseeable expenses should have been in the budget. It was pointed out that the community was made aware that this may happen because the board president, Janifer Kulmann, had stated in her February 11, 2017 gala address: “Our staff needs additional support, whether it’s blinds on the windows, or technology in the classroom, or dare I say bonuses, your support this evening helps us get there!” Elizabeth Williams, who was not yet appointed to the board and named its Treasurer, spoke out to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, and the board discussed that this would just be a one-time situation. Have the teachers’ annual August bonuses been worked into the budget appropriately, or should we interpret the 2017-2018 Annual Campaign letter to be a sign that this diversion of fundraising dollars will happen, yet again? The letter states, “Money from this important campaign supplements our funding gap by supporting the purchase of classroom supplies, instructional materials, technology updates, lunch tables, auditorium seating, and everything in between.”
In this year’s budget, what is the line item amount for end-of-year bonuses?
Historically, the volunteer fundraising committee members have been tasked with fielding donation receipt requests and they have not been stored in the central office. Is the school doing anything differently now to ensure that donation receipts are IRS compatible and stored in the central school office or within the school’s information systems?
The school has used generalized statements for gala fundraising amounts, such as “over $160,000”. For accountability, the school should release precise numbers, including the gross amount raised, total expenditures, and the net amount raised. Is the school willing to do this?
The Finance Committee chair has been named as a committee presenter on numerous governance board meeting agendas, but Lynne Allen, CFO, ends up presenting on behalf of the committee in his absence. Will this continue to be the case, and if so, can you proactively insert Lynne Allen’s name to the agendas? And why isn’t the Finance Committee Chair attending the board meetings?
Please describe your asset tracking and inventory practices. When an item (like a phone, for example) is purchased, how is the expenditure in the registry traceable to the asset, how is the inventory of assets tracked, and what is the practice when an asset is discarded?
Stargate’s Form 990s have had errors. The school has failed to break out and name the donors at and above the $5K donation level, as should be noted on Schedule B of the tax filings. The school has also failed to disclose employees with total compensation exceeding $150,000 (on Schedule J), an important financial transparency disclosure. Ms. Allen states that the tax CPA does not advise that past years should be amended to reflect these donations. The board is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of IRS filings. Is the board’s stance on this matter that the previous Form 990s will not be corrected?
Stargate has had the same auditing company, Swanhorst, since at least 2004. Is the school planning to switch auditors for this summer’s audit?
Is the board planning to hire a third party to perform a forensic cash audit of prior years, as has been requested by multiple stakeholders?
What controls exist in relation to spending limits? Is each control a board policy or a “process”? When is board approval required? When were settlements approved?
What is the total 990-reportable income for the following administrators: Mr. Cochran, Ms. Allen, Mr. Cable, Mrs. Hischke?
What is the split, this year, between administrator salaries and teacher salaries?
Next year, with the addition of a dean and assistant principals, what is the anticipated split between administrator salaries and teacher salaries?
What are the costs associated with placing an administrator on administrative leave?
What per pupil revenue does/will the Adams 12 bond provide? If the district chooses not to renew our charter next summer and we must change authorizers, will this revenue be lost?
If the district does not renew Stargate’s charter next summer, will the school be required to refund any portion of the funds received from the Adams 12 bond spent on the Adroit space or rock climbing wall?
What approvals are required when signing a settlement? What dollar amount requires a board approval? What level of non-financial commitments, such as non-disclosure or fulfilling particular actions, requires board approval? If a settlement commits the school to spending money in future budget cycles, how is that approval handled?
In the March 2016 board meeting, a motion was made by Brad Schoenfeld, seconded by Jan Kulmann, and approved by the board to authorize Brad Schoenfeld and Kristen Kelly to spend up to $5000 on “items related to a formal complaint recently submitted to the Board.” Further, the motion states “Any decision that would result in the expenditure of additional amounts or bind the school will be brought back to the Board for consideration.” In addition to the language of the approved motion, the minutes also state “The Board agreed that final decisions would need to come back to the Board for formal approval.”
What was the total amount expended (via legal fees, settlement costs, taxes, etc) related to this formal complaint?
If the amount was greater than $5000, did the board discuss and formally approve this additional expenditure? If so, on what date?
Was a settlement signed for this formal complaint? If so, that would act to “bind the school.” Was this settlement discussed and approved by the board? If so, on what date?
Does the school have any ongoing requirements related to this formal complaint, such as unemployment payments, deferred payments, benefit payments, required training sessions, or other forms of direct or indirect compensation? If so, on what date will the school have completed these “bindings”? What will be the cumulative cost of these bindings?
How will donations to the gala be handled for tax purposes? In the past I have had businesses give me gear to auction and have been unable to get an accounting of how much the school made off of the items, so they could not claim it. Why is there not a tracking system for these type of items? What is being done to address the problem now that the ex fundraising chair is on the board?