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North Dakota school transportation data flagged in new audit

North Dakota school transportation data flagged in new audit

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North Dakota state Capitol

The North Dakota state Capitol in Bismarck is offset by flowers in full bloom in June 2018.

A state audit has concluded that guidance and monitoring could be improved for North Dakota school districts' transportation data.

The data include annual miles and rides reported by school districts. The numbers are used to calculate state aid payments. The audit couldn't determine if the transportation data are complete and accurate. Assistant attorney generals also determined that neither the state auditor's office nor the Department of Public Instruction has authority to request the necessary documentation from school districts.

"Making sure we are able to verify the accuracy of records is important for transparency and public trust," State Auditor Josh Gallion said in a statement. “This an opportunity for the Legislature to improve oversight of public funds for both the auditor’s office and the Department of Public Instruction.”

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a statement to the Tribune that her department anticipates working with Gallion and the 2021 Legislature "to determine if the Legislature believes any changes need to be made."

The department made $54 million of transportation grant payments to school districts in the 2017-19 budget cycle. The audit noted that a lack of guidance and monitoring of transportation data gives school districts the potential to receive extra money from the state.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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