WESTMINSTER - The Carroll Board of Education is expected to give the go-ahead next month to a management audit that once sparked a bitter turf battle with the County Commissioners.
The school administration will recommend that the board approve a $44,800 proposal from Arthur Anderson & Co. of Baltimore to review school management practices. The firm's bid was the lowest of five received.
Plans for a more extensive performance review were first unveiled last fall in the midst of a feud between the school board and the County Commissioners over who should control the audit.
The stalemate ended earlier this year when Maryland Attorney General J.
Joseph Curran Jr. ruled that the county had no legal right to seek a management audit of the public schools.
After that report was issued, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling pledged to press ahead with a performance audit anyway to improve efficiency.
The management audit, though, may end up back on the desk of the commissioners. The school board did not budget money for the audit in its current budget, said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration.
Hyde said the board either will have to search internally for the money or seek additional dollars from the county.
"The former commissioners thought it was important that the school system be accountable," said school board member Cheryl A. McFalls. "I believe the new (commissioners) will understand how important it is to fund this."
Money was not budgeted for the audit because school board members did not want to take dollars away from the system's day-to-day operations.
"It's difficult enough to keep programs running smoothly without pulling money out for an audit," McFalls said.
Although he said he favors an outside audit of school management, Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he did not know whether money would be available because of financial restraints.
"I would like to see an outside firm come in and do a review," he said.
"But I don't know that we'll have the money. It's too early to tell."
Former Commissioner President John L. Armacost, who along with Commissioner Julia W. Gouge first proposed hiring an outside consultant, said, "If the Board of Education wishes to do that, that's up to them. We took our hands off of it when the state attorney general gave his decision."
Once an outside consultant is hired, Hyde estimated it would take at least a couple of months to review management of the finance and personnel departments and aspects of data processing.
He said the administration has delayed seeking board go-ahead for the audit because the process involves the school management team, which has been busy with contract negotiations and developing next year's budget.