The Liberty County Board of Education voted against a forensic audit at Tuesday’s regular meeting. Board members Verdell Jones, Carol Guyett, Marcia Anderson, Carolyn Smith-Carter, Dr. Yvette Keel and board chairwoman Lily Baker voted against the audit.
Marcus Scott IV voted for the measure.
Scott has been requesting the audit since the firing of former LCSS chief financial officer Roger Reese last year. He said at the time of Reese’s firing it was noted that the system’s finances were in shambles.
During Reese’s tribunal held April 11, 2017, school system attorney Phillip Hartley said Reese’s incompetence left the school system’s finances in a precarious state.
Since the tribunal, however the school system’s finances have been reviewed by three different auditors, the most recent done by Wes Sherrell, director of internal audits of the Georgia Department of Education.
Sherrell told the board and Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry that he didn’t think a forensic audit was needed for the school district at the March 28 workshop.
Sherrell said requesting a forensic audit could be costly to the district. He noted one district paid $108,000 for a forensic audit. While it did uncover fraud the audit cost that one district much more than the fraud uncovered.
Sherrell said his team reviewed financial reports from 2014 through 2017 and said they found no abnormalities that would indicate fraud. They did find some areas where funds misallocated.
“We’ve had three separate audits,” Anderson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m not willing to spend taxpayers’ money to look for something that would have already been found.”
“I see absolutely no reason for a forensic audit,” Guyett said and noted that a forensic audit would require detailed instructions on what auditors would need to look for.
“It is very taxing on our staff,” Perry added.
Perry said he felt comfortable with the audits and financial records but added that if the board did vote the measure through he would make sure the auditors would have everything they need.
Jones said a forensic audit could be helpful.
“I would be interested in seeing how our dollars are spent and are we getting a return on our investment on our spending,” she said. “And when you look at equity, we cannot continue to give money out based on numbers. We have to give money out based on need. We’ve got to start dispersing money according to where the need is and not just hand out money across the board. There are some schools that need more based on demographics and other needs.”
The board approved the new district organizational chart that now includes the position of deputy superintendent. The board voted 6-1 for the chart with Scott dissenting, saying he was concerned over one of the executive director positions. He said one executive director oversees four critical departments. Currently the executive director of maintenance and operations oversees the director of finance, human resources, transportation and school nutrition.
The board restored five additional calendars days for the middle and high schools counselors.
The board also added an accountant for the finance department.