Monday, Oct 24, 2016
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Arts school audit shows worsening financial situation

The financial problems faced by the Performing Arts School of Metropolitan Toledo got worse from year to year, according to an independent audit released yesterday.

The charter school, at 2740 West Central Ave. and likely to stay closed this fall, had accumulated a deficit of more than $356,000 by June, 2005, the audit said.

"The school is under financial distress as it is unable to pay vendors, payroll, and taxes as these amounts come due," the audit said.

The audit of the school for fiscal year 2004 re-ported a deficit of $355,127.

The Ohio State Auditor's Office, which released yesterday's report, has an ongoing special audit into the financial activities of the troubled charter school.

State Auditor Mary Taylor said in February that her office would review the school's financial activities at the request of its oversight agency, the Ohio Council of Community Schools.

Toward the end of the school year in May, a number of protests by teachers and students erupted over salary and insurance. Scuffles broke out on campus and off-duty police officers were hired as security.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Council of Community Schools, which is the designee of the University of Toledo authorized to sponsor charter schools, sued the Performing Arts School, claiming it failed to pay its sponsor fees. According to the suit, the school owes the council $10,075 for sponsor fees.

The council also alleged that the school owes in excess of $100,000, "including withholding taxes for September through December, 2006, taxes due the State of Ohio Workmen's Compensation and unemployment taxes, and unpaid premiums for the medical insurance policy for employers."

Because of the alleged debt, the council asked the court to appoint a receiver to take possession of the charter school and its assets.

As of June 30, 2005, the school had $153,016 in outstanding debt, the audit said.

Officials for the council refused to comment on the release of the 2004-05 school year audit.

"This audit covers the period ending June 30, 2005, when the Ohio Council of Community Schools was not the sponsor," said an e-mail from Apryl Morin, a council employee.

Carroll Ashley, council chairman, in May said the charter school would be shut down unless a management firm or another organization is willing to assume responsibility.

The audit released yesterday also found that the spouse of the school's former executive director - who was fired in January - owned a construction company that the school paid $7,109 for construction services.

Charter schools, which are publicly funded in Ohio, must have a governing board under law and be sponsored by an agency like the Ohio Council of Community Schools.

The arts school operated without any governing board members since February when the council's executive director, Allison Perz, said she assumed control.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

or 419-724-6171.

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