Audit says the Hickman Mills School District is getting its act together

The Hickman Mills School District, fresh with a revamped board, is making good on most of Missouri auditor Tom Schweich’s recommendations issued in March.

Schweich’s office released a follow-up report this week on a district that earlier in the year was wracked by political patronage and loose accounting of the district’s finances and property. The Pitch in February published a report detailing the problems with the school district, many of which occurred during former board member Breman Anderson’s tenure as district board president in 2012 and 2013.

Anderson was closely aligned with East Side political club Freedom Inc. Anderson helped direct contracts toward companies and individuals with ties to the club while president. Freedom had been trying to expand its influence into the Hickman Mills district after its stature in Kansas City Public Schools had waned over the years. 

Other members of the Hickman Mills board grew tired of Anderson and managed to outmaneuver his quest for another term as board president; Eric Lowe instead got the position in 2013. Anderson got flushed out of the Hickman Mills board entirely during the April elections this year, but not before he dragged out Schweich’s audit of the district, causing the auditor at one point to issue a rare subpoena to gather documents that Anderson refused to turn over. Other Freedom-aligned candidates in the April election failed to win seats on the board.

Schweich’s follow-up audit found that the district was working to shore up its financial condition, that it was doing a better job of obeying open meetings and open records laws, and drastically reducing the number of administrators who had access to district-issued credit cards from 44 to four.

The district was somewhat behind in adopting policies governing the district’s food purchases and board travel. The March audit had found that board members were traveling to training seminars on the district’s dime, but learned that some members, including Anderson, had not been showing up to sessions. The follow-up audit says the district’s travel expenses have been cut in half, but hadn’t fully documented board member participation during a recent National School Board Association conference.

Categories: News