Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 6, 2013

County’s school board calls for audit standards

Officials unveil plan of action

CUMBERLAND — In an effort to address issues raised in a recent audit report, Allegany County Board of Education members met Tuesday in a special session to call for advanced standards for the audit they said could cost the board $550,000 to implement.

At the meeting, the board unveiled a plan of action to mitigate 19 negative findings in the report that was conducted by Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits.

“There is not a standard that says this is the best practice,” said David Cox, superintendent of schools.

The board members, who have been frustrated by the critical report, discussed solutions to remedy the audit’s findings.

All 24 of Maryland’s public school Systems receive legislative audits.

The board’s plan discloses where members agree with some findings, while disagreeing with others.

“Having no standards is problematic. With our annual audit with Huber Michaels, they are very clear to us what the audit standards are,” said Cox.

The board sees having an advanced set of guidelines and standards for the audit as the key to future positive audits.

“Between now and the next audit, our challenge is to get the legislature to put standards in there. It’s as simple as that,” said Michael McKay, Allegany County commission president and ex-officio board member.

Board members said they have implemented several of the audit’s suggestions already.

The OLA audits began in 2006 and are conducted about every five years.

However, board members indicated that a new set of auditors arrived this fall for the board’s second legislative audit.

“Three auditors came here for seven months. They have limited background in education. They will tell you they are not here to tell you what you did good, but are here to make findings,” said Randall Bittinger, the board’s chief business officer.

One finding said the board lost $4 million in food service operations from 2008 to 2011.

The board subsidizes student meals from its general fund with annual approval from county commissioners.

Bittinger and others on the board defended what they said has been significant progress in lowering food service expenses and subsidies.

“In fiscal years 2008 and 2009, our subsidy was $1.2 million. We have got it down to a half-million dollars. We’re down 54 percent,” he said.

Bittinger said he feels the school system compares favorably to others.

“I worked at the state level. I don’t know any school system that makes money on their food service. If they do, they should be ashamed because they are making money at the expense of the children,” said Ed Root, board president.

“I don’t know of any school system in Maryland that breaks even, bar none,” Root said.

Cox said the new federal lunch programs, which require more fresh fruit and vegetables, — subsequently increasing work hours and expense — only reimburse the school six cents per meal.

“We have kids that don’t want a snow day because that means they won’t eat that day,” said Root.

“If you go to some elementary schools and see these bins with little backpacks in them and you wonder why? It’s because the kids get food to take home over the weekend so they have something to eat,” said Root.

“The bottom line is we are in a poor county. I support our food service program,” said board member Mike Llewellyn.

Another finding accused the board of overpaying bus drivers by $880,000 by paying for negotiated contracts instead of basing wages on miles and maintenance.

“We did not overpay bus drivers’ contracts $800,000 (sic) that we shouldn’t have paid them,” said Bittinger.

“They took one year: fiscal year 2010. You got to look at everything. Gas is more here and there are geographic differences from down state,” said Bittinger.

Bittinger said other jurisdictions, like Carroll County, pay more for maintenance than Allegany County and they didn’t get written up.

Llewellyn said he feels that the area has special circumstances.

“It’s different running a bus. They have special heaters on their engines for the diesel fuel. They need a new bus every 10 years. I don’t think they did their homework on this one,” he said.

Llewellyn said the board did a study and that it would be more expensive if the board took over the bus service operations.

“The contractors responded by saying they would go out of business if they didn’t get their rate,” said Llewellyn.

Since the board has determined that many of the audit findings are arbitrary with no provisions for funding, they feel expenditures to implement many of the suggestions have become a moot point.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military