ASHLAND, Ky. – A lot of people love high school football.
That was apparently the case in the summer of 2015, when a state audit found that the Fairview, Kentucky school district transferred $360,000 in general fund money to a student activities fund without the knowledge of the school board, resulting in “excessive spending on the football program,” according to a report of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The district also underreported spending on the football program by at least $148,260 and did not report accurate amounts spent on other school sports, the news report said.
Overspending on football probably violated federal Title IX laws, which require equal spending on girls and boys school sports that are at least partially funded with federal dollars.
“I appreciate school pride and share the insatiable enthusiasm Kentuckians have for their high school sports, but these were not responsible, grown-up decisions that were being made,” Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen was quoted as saying by the Herald-Leader.
The audit report, “describes a tiny district in far northeastern Kentucky that allowed its athletics and other activities to deficit spend with no oversight, and then plugged any holes with money that could’ve been used for instructional purposes at the end of the year,”
The state audit also that retired school superintendent Bill Musick used a school credit card for personal purchases, authorized a 32 percent salary increase for one employee without school board approval, and entered into a contract with a sporting goods company without board approval, according to the Herald-Leader.
“Throughout the audit, several district staff reported that the superintendent intimidated staffers so they wouldn’t question his decisions or discuss his actions,” the news report said.
There’s little doubt that more money could have been used for instructional purposes.
Seventy percent of Fairview district qualified for free- or reduced-cost lunches in the 2014-15 school year, and teacher compensation as a percentage of total spending was the lowest of any school district in the state, the news report said.
The appetite for football success at Fairview, regardless of rules and priorities, is apparently a pattern. In 2013 the Kentucky State Athletic Association severely penalized the Fairview football program for using an ineligible player for an extended period of time, according to various news reports.
The penalty included forfeiture of 19 football games over two seasons, the loss of the team’s 2012 state-runner up status, and removal of the team from the 2013 state playoffs.