Cumberland Times-News

March 5, 2013

School audit fix would cost about $550,000; budget process begins

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Education called for standards Tuesday when it met to unveil its plan to mitigate the findings levied against the board in a recent negative legislative audit.

The board members were in agreement that the Office of Legislative Audits, which gave no guidelines to meet prior to the audit, must spell out the standards for a successful audit in the future.

The OLA hit the BOE with a report in January that made 19 critical findings with one citing the board for a $4 million loss over the past four years in its food service operations.

Board members pointed out that they subsidize student meals and continue to make progress in cost savings in cafeteria operations.

“I don’t know of any school systems that make money,” said Ed Root, the president of the board.

“If they are making money on the kids they should be ashamed. I have worked on the state level. I also don’t know of any school systems that break even,” said Root.

Board member Mike Llewellyn also spoke passionately about food service.

“Bottom line is we live in a poor area. These kids need fed. The meal they receive at school might be their only one that day,” said Llewellyn.

Each of the 19 findings were discussed in the meeting. The board said it has already implemented many of the ideas suggested in the audit.

A report prepared by the BOE to offer insight into the findings, stated that it would cost the board more than $550,000 to implement the solutions suggested by the audit. The cost would include hiring of additional employees to help oversee the programs placement and operation.

“We just don’t have the manpower to do this,” said Vince Montana, director of facilities for the board.

The meeting also featured a presentation and discussion of the board’s $110 million 2014 fiscal year budget.

The budget is still being planned and will not be voted on until late May.

Randall Bittinger, chief business officer for the BOE, went through the proposed budget for the board members.

Payroll costs for the BOE remain the highest expense at nearly $40 million.

Allegany County is expected to contribute around $30 million.

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