Published on The Waterloo Republic Blog:

State Education Superintendent Candidate’s District Repeatedly Cited for Failing to Follow Financial Reporting Regulations

Democrat John Cox repeatedly failed to remedy multiple audit reports showing his school district to be out of compliance with Oklahoma State Department of Education standards.

These findings were published in the Peggs school district’s annual audit for the 2011 fiscal year. In his citation, CPA Alan Chapman wrote that “the combined financial statements referred to above do not include the general fixed asset account group, which should be included in order to conform with accounting and financial reporting regulations prescribed or permitted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.”

Following the release of the report, the district appears to have taken limited or no action to remedy the findings as Chapman incorporated a similar citation in his audits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The reporting of the general fixed asset account group accounts for the property, plant and the equipment owned by the district. Without this accounting the true financial picture becomes skewed.

Deprived of this information, Chapman did not include any accounting of the district’s capital assets such as buildings, land, furniture and equipment or construction in progress leaving local taxpayers unable to quantify the true value of the district’s holdings.

This type of citation isn’t uncommon for small districts such as Peggs some of which appear to show little inclination to come into compliance with the accounting standards.

Few doubt that Cox, who has been employed as the Superintendent of the Peggs school district, for the past 20 years, represents Oklahoma Democrats’ best chance to score a victory on next month’s general election ballot.

The disclosure of the audit findings join an array of concerns which have been raised by leading Republicans and Cox’s general election opponent Joy Hofmeister.

Hofmeister and state legislators Todd Thomsen and Lee Denney are publically questioning Cox’s salary of $141,678 per year; an amount purportedly nearly twice the state average for an administrator and especially questionable considering Peggs appears to employ just 15 faculty members.

State records show Cox receiving just $115,347 per year as recently as 2011.

Those wanting to identify and hold Peggs school board members to account for Cox’s sudden rise in pay shouldn’t attempt to use the Peggs website; the names of school board members are not posted.

State Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston has criticized Cox for the failure of the Peggs website to comply with the 2001 era state law which mandates the placement of meeting agendas and the names of school board members. On October 10th, Cox responded with the defense, “While the site is live, it is still under construction. We will work immediately to get our agendas, etc. up on the site”.

At of October 25th, the site hadn’t been updated.

Records show the current Peggs site was initially registered in 2012. The first recorded content appeared on July 1st of 2013 according to the Web archiving site, The Wayback Machine.

As State Superintendent Cox would preside over a large Web presence with numerous transparency components including Oklahoma’s OCAS financial accounting system.

Voters will go to the polls on November 4th.