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Board’s approval of auditor contract not unanimous

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White and Company won the contract with lowest bid

By Stevie Lowery

The Marion County Board of Education approved its auditor contract for the 2013-14 school year last week, but it wasn’t without some debate.
Historically, the board has hired White and Company in Lebanon to complete auditing services, but recently several members of the board asked for the auditor contract to be put out for bid with the possibility of hiring a new auditor.
At the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday, April 22, Superintendent Taylora Schlosser informed the board that the district received four bids, which were: Wise, Buckner, Sprowles and Associates ($17,000), White and Associates ($16,950), Denise Keene ($16,500) and White and Company ($14,950).
Board member Mike Cecil said he’s been told that changing auditors every few years is something a school district should do. And, the deciding on the auditor’s contract has been difficult for him this year.
“It’s probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make since I’ve been on the board, actually,” he said. “I’m not comfortable if we continue on doing the same thing over and over again.”
Board Member DeLane Pinkston agreed.
“I concur with you,” he said. “There’s only one thing I have thought about. The problem is familiarity, that’s what they say. But, we’ve had a change in principals, superintendents… It’s change if you look at it that way. I still think we should change occasionally.”
Board Member Butch Cecil said putting the contract out for bid was the right thing to do.
“We did put it out for bid and I think that’s one of the most important things that we can do,” he said.
Board Member Bernard Miles said he was in favor of selecting the lowest bid, which was from White and Company.
“It doesn’t matter who is doing it. They are still going to follow the state guidelines,” Miles said.
Board Chairman Michael Mullins agreed.
“To me it’s a matter of trust,” he said. “We’ve had auditors who have done a good job for us. They haven’t given us any reason to think otherwise.”
The majority of the board voted to approve the contract with White and Company. However, Mike Cecil voted no and DeLane Pinkston abstained from voting.
Marion County Superintendent Taylora Schlosser said the district has spent $20,000 this year with White and Company for conducting the district’s regular audit and a special audit, specifically reviewing school activity funds.

Special audit correction
In August of 2013, the school board unanimously approved hiring an independent auditor to conduct an in-depth audit of the activity funds of the Marion County Public School System for the years 2011-13. White and Company. P.S.C., conducted the audit review and analysis. In summary, the audit showed numerous instances of incomplete or improper documentation for cash receipts and disbursements of school activity funds, especially at Marion County High School.
Several recommendations were made after the special audit. The Lebanon Enterprise reported that the creation of a district-wide athletic director was one of the recommendations made by White and Company, P.S.C. That is not accurate. Actually, Superintendent Schlosser recommended that the athletic director’s position be separated from the assistant principal’s position. Schlosser also recommended an assistant athletic director’s position.
“High school athletics have grown tremendously over the past several years with additional paperwork, federal requirements, changes in accounting procedures and growing supervision responsibilities,” Schlosser wrote in an email to the Enterprise. “The athletic association is now expecting school districts to move regulations down to the middle schools and add additional sports programs to be under the board’s authority. With all of this in mind, along with the increasing pressures for students to be able to compete globally after high school, I made the recommendation to separate the AD position from the assistant principal’s position because our high school needs two assistant principals that can focus fully on ensuring that student’s graduate college and/or career ready. Our middle school students are held to higher standards and must be prepared for high school so with an assistant athletic director, our principals at St. Charles Middle School and Lebanon Middle School can focus on being the instructional leaders of the school while the assistant ensures that we are compliant and competitive at each middle school. Several school systems around us have already separated the athletic director’s position from the assistant principal’s position. This is about making our school district a system where students can make dreams come true.”

In other matters, board members:
• Approved the establishment of a district-wide assistant athletic director position.
• Approved the establishment of a district-wide school psychologist position.
• Approved to accept a donation from Spring View Hospital to Marion County High School Athletic Department in the amount of $1,500.

Superintendent Schlosser notified the board of the following actions regarding certified personnel:
• Notice of non-renewal of employment for the 2014-15 school year given to the following certified employees: Amanda Barnett, Linda Begley, Anna Davenport, Krystal Gootee, Heather Hutchins, Kathy Looper, Francis D. Lyvers, Peggy Price, Stephanie Nalley, Mitzi Reynolds, Shannon Richardson, Chelsea Smith, Melissa Smith, Kristin Spalding and Jaclyn Spaulding.
• Acceptance of resignation of Ana Blanquer-Catala as a teacher at Marion County High School, effective May 2.
• Acknowledgement of retirement of Charlotte Benningfield as a teacher at Glasscock Elementary School, effective Aug. 1.
• Acceptance of resignation of Sarah Steele as a counselor at West Marion Elementary School, effective June 30.
• Notice of demotion and reduction in responsibility and pay of employee #101041 for the 2014-15 school year.
• Acceptance of resignation as principal, and approval of his request for reassignment to teacher for James B. Mattingly at West Marion Elementary School, effective July 1.
• Appointment of Coury Osbourne as an instructional coach, effective July 1.
• Appointment of Haley Evans as an instructional coach, effective July 1.
• Appointment of Tammy Parman as an instructional coach, effective July 1.
• Appointment of Greg Taylor as an instructional coach, effective, July 1.

Superintendent Schlosser notified the board of the following actions regarding classified personnel:
• Notice of Non-Renewal of Employment for the 2014-15 school year given to the following classified employees:  Holly Buckman (coaching only), John Daugherty, Misty Kehm, Joseph Leake, Krystal Leake, Ramona McKinney, Nicole Mudd, Ann-Rachelle Newton, Jennifer Newton, Abigail Peake, Aubrey Skutt, Leanna Stewart and Leslie Yates.
• Notice of reassignment and reduction in responsibility and pay given employee  #100718 for the 2014-15 school year.
• Notice of reassignment and reduction in responsibility and pay given employee  #100529 for the 2014-15 school year.
•Acknowledgement of retirement of Patricia Osborne as an attendance clerk at Glasscock Elementary, effective July 1.