Mount Healthy City Schools’ $18.5 Million Accounting Error Plunged District into Turmoil

Mount Healthy City Schools' $18.5 Million Accounting Error Plunged District into Turmoil |


Mount Healthy City Schools, Ohio’s sole district currently grappling with a fiscal emergency, faces a daunting deficit exceeding $7.4 million. The revelation of an $18.5 million accounting error has thrown the district into a state of turmoil, prompting urgent measures to address its financial crisis.

Initially projecting a comfortable $19.2 million for the 2023 fiscal year, Mount Healthy officials now acknowledge a staggering shortfall, with the actual amount available being a mere $674,000. The gravity of the situation came to light in a letter issued by the district on Thursday, following the release of a scathing report by the Ohio State Auditor’s Office.

This report, made public on Wednesday, sheds light on a series of financial missteps that led to Mount Healthy’s descent into fiscal emergency. It marks a critical juncture for the district, which now faces the most severe stage of financial distress, prompting intervention from state authorities.

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber didn’t mince words, expressing concern over what he deemed a failure of leadership and mismanagement of public resources. With Mount Healthy standing as Ohio’s solitary district in fiscal emergency, urgent action is imperative to navigate through this unprecedented financial crisis.

Audit: District Had $18.5 Million Less Than Former Treasurer Claimed

An audit conducted by the Ohio State Auditor’s Office revealed significant discrepancies in Mount Healthy City School District’s financial records, pointing to a dire need for improved accounting practices. The report highlighted an alarming $18.5 million disparity between the district’s projected and actual financial standings, casting a shadow over its fiscal integrity.

Former Treasurer Rebecca Brooks, who served the district for 35 years, found herself at the center of scrutiny as the audit uncovered inaccuracies in her financial forecasts. The lack of a formal budgeting process and written policies for forecasts compounded the issue, leaving the district vulnerable to such substantial errors.

Mount Healthy’s response to the audit underscored the absence of protocols at the state level to verify forecast accuracy, deflecting accountability from individual officials to systemic deficiencies. While the district grapples with the aftermath of this revelation, questions linger regarding how such a significant oversight could have evaded detection for so long.

Attempts to solicit comment from district officials, including Superintendent Valerie Hawkins and Assistant Superintendent Charles J. Ogdan, yielded no response, leaving the public with lingering concerns about the district’s transparency and accountability moving forward.

Pandemic Teacher Hiring Worsened Deficit of $7.4 Million, Audit Says

Amid mounting fiscal woes, Superintendent Valerie Hawkins defended Mount Healthy City School District’s record, citing notable improvements in student outcomes as a testament to its efficacy. Despite facing significant financial constraints, the district saw a commendable increase in student proficiency, particularly among its economically disadvantaged student population.

Hawkins emphasized the district’s commitment to leveraging external funding sources, including pandemic relief grants, to bolster its educational initiatives without burdening the local community. However, the decision to allocate funds towards pandemic-induced teacher hiring inadvertently exacerbated the district’s financial deficit, contributing to its current predicament.

As Mount Healthy grapples with the ramifications of its fiscal mismanagement, stakeholders are left to contend with difficult decisions regarding budgetary priorities and resource allocation. The road ahead remains uncertain, with the district’s ability to navigate this financial crisis hinging on swift and decisive action to address systemic weaknesses and restore fiscal stability.

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