School board consents to an audit

December 10, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

For several months, the Carroll County commissioners hav challenged the school board to agree to a performance audit, and the board has resisted.

Yesterday, the board returned the challenge. Members unanimously agreed to an audit, as long as the commissioners pay for it.

"I believe it's going to cost a quarter of a million dollars," said Ann M. Ballard of the Board of Education.

Board members also said they were confident that any audit would confirm that the schools are operating efficiently. They pointed to recent test results showing Carroll met all of the minimum state standards for basic skills and attendance, although it spent far less than Howard County, the only other county to meet those standards.

"We have nothing to hide," Mrs. Ballard said. "It might be good for the people in the county to see how we spend their money."

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said the system has made several changes in the past five years to become more streamlined and efficient.

"But because this issue continues to hang out there, the perception is that's not what we're interested in," Mr. Shilling said.

The board's agreement to an audit comes with a few conditions, such as that the board and commissioners agree on the definition of a performance audit and that the contract be bid on the open market to an outside firm.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell had not sought the audit as actively as had the other two commissioners, Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy. However, Mr. Dell, who attended the board (( meeting yesterday, said he was impressed with the board's willingness to be examined.

Mr. Lippy and Mrs. Gouge sought a state law giving counties the right to impose audits on their school systems but were told by delegates that such a proposal would have little support statewide.

"The school board knew it didn't have a good chance of passing, and they still offered to do it [an audit]," Mr. Dell said. "I think that's a great step, and it shows the two boards are coming together.

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