TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Every year, teachers in Lake County receive a check from the state to purchase school supplies. This year, it was $260. But up until this year, the burden was solely on the teachers to report the spending as part of their income to the Internal Revenue Service. School Board Chair Bill Matthias says, "It's shocking to me that we are just now holding these funds accountable."
But new IRS rules requiring employees to turn in all receipts or the employer be fined prompted the Lake County School District to begin auditing the receipts. School district spokesperson Sherri Owens says, "With some reports they were missing receipts. With some there were receipts that did not match expenses. And with some there were receipts that covered expenses that we didn't think fit." Owens says candy was one of those illegitimate expenses. Owens says in every case they had a talk with the teacher, and if the correct receipts were missing the teacher wasn't reimbursed and had to repay the district.
But all this has Matthias taking a closer look. "They were issued the checks September 30th. They were to spend the money by January 20th, and have their receipts in, so we are expecting teachers to anticipate what they need..so there has got to be waste about that."
So Matthias will propose to the board and district teachers have the option of putting any unspent money at tax time into a personal account with their school's Advisory Council, or SAC, for later use. Matthias says he will propose his idea next month.