The audit proposal from David Morgan went over like the proverbial lead balloon with fellow board members, but instead of voting it down they asked Superintendent Michael Hinojosa to come up with costs and benefits and other specifics of such an audit. He’s expected to present his findings at the Jan. 15 board meeting.
Now more time will be wasted on a proposal that could cost anywhere from $109,000 to $770,000 or maybe more. Those figures were for a company discussed by Amy Krause, the district’s chief academic officer, at the board’s work session last week.
If the school district was rolling in tax revenues, this idea would still be a bad one. But consider that when the board approved the current $856.3 million budget for fiscal 2014, it plugged a deficit of $86.4 million by cutting 182 teaching positions through attrition and handing five furlough days to teachers and staff, plus taking $22 million from general fund reserves. Chief finance officer Brad Johnson said at the time that the district was facing a $60 million deficit for fiscal 2015 for starters and it probably would increase. Obviously, the district needs to be saving every penny it can.
And even if there was money available, it would be better spent by the district in trying to fix the huge problem of oversized classes in some of the schools, per the findings presented to the board last week by parent John Morris. He found that Griffin Middle School students spent a whopping 81 percent of the school day in oversized classes. At South Cobb High, it was 61 percent, and at East Cobb Middle, 55 percent. Now that’s something the board and administration can sink their teeth into. No audit needed.
The same goes for David Morgan’s concern over “certain policies” of the school district, particularly the transfer of teachers when enrollment at a school declines. The transfers are made regardless of whether principals at the other schools consider the transferring teachers to be “a good fit.” Instead of moving teachers around, the district should allow teachers to apply for new jobs and let principals make decisions on hiring, Morgan said. In his view, the change could reduce teacher turnover rates and improve test scores.
It takes an outside audit to change this policy? Since when did the board lose its policy-making authority? Aren’t the policies supposed to be set by the board? If Morgan wants to eliminate the forced placements of teachers, why doesn’t he propose that policy change to the board? If the board agrees, the policy is changed and the superintendent carries out the new policy, right?
All that’s needed is for the board and the superintendent to do the jobs they’re paid to do — not waste money and time on an audit.