Thackston Charter's audits, still unfinished, due next week

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch
  • Thackston agreed to complete and approve audits for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years in an agreement.
  • With about a week to go before the deadline, all three years were incomplete as of Jan. 16.
  • If the audits are not approved by Jan. 31, Thackston must close by the end of the current school year.

Helen Thackston Charter School is racing to complete three years of financial audits by Wednesday, Jan. 31, under a deal with the York City school board that would allow the charter to remain open through the 2018-19 school year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Students return to Helen Thackston Charter School Wednesday with all construction completed. Bill Kalina photo

If the audits are not completed and approved by next week's deadline, Thackston could close at the end of the current school year.

The school boards for Thackston and the district each unanimously approved a dissolution agreement last October to avoid lengthy revocation hearings focusing on Thackston's performance.

The deal calls for the charter school to close its doors for good in 2019 — as long as the board can produce the missing audits.

The overdue audits were cited in the district's attempt to revoke the school's charter, and, according to Thackston's CEO, the inability to produce them was a big reason the board agreed last fall to forego the hearings and close the school.

According to CEO Carlos Lopez, external auditors have visited the school’s administrative offices over the past two weeks in search of documents needed to complete the audits for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

Helen Thackson Charter School CEO Carlos Lopez and principal Melissa Achuff address the school board during a rescheduled board meeting Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Bill Kalina photo

'Not 100 percent sure': Lopez said the school’s business manager “is not 100 percent sure” if the audits will be completed for board members to approve by Thursday, Jan. 25 — the last scheduled board meeting before the Jan. 31 deadline.

If the audits are completed after the Jan. 25 meeting but before the deadline, the charter school's board could hold a special meeting  Tuesday, Jan. 30 — just one day before the deadline — to approve them, he said.

Lopez said none of the three audits had been completed as of Tuesday, Jan. 16, but he added all three years are being done simultaneously.

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The three-month window — from October 2017 to January 2018 — for completion of the audits has been difficult, he said.

“We had new auditors coming in trying to file three years of audits,” Lopez said. “The short time frame has been a challenge for us.”

He's not giving up hope, however.

“I have to be as confident as I can be because this is all we have,” Lopez said.

No extension: Reached by phone on Monday, Jan. 22, York City school board President Margie Orr was not sympathetic to Lopez’s argument of a short timeframe.

“They should have brought (that) up with our administrators during negotiations,” she said. “That’s on them.”

While Orr said the board would consider any new recommendations by district administrators, there currently are no plans to extend Thackston’s deadline.

“Why they weren't getting their deadlines done for all those years is unconscionable,” she said.

“As of now, the deadline is still enforced,” Orr added.

The meeting: Thackston’s school board will meet at the school, located at 625 E. Philadelphia St., at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25.