Controversy Erupts Over Biloxi Schools Preliminary Audit - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/26/04

Controversy Erupts Over Biloxi Schools Preliminary Audit

In a special meeting Friday, Biloxi Schools Business Manager Bonnie Granger briefed the school board about preliminary findings in a routine audit report.

So far, the state audit has not found any missing money and the district is not required to pay back any money. But, it did find some procedural problems.

Some of the findings included:

  • Weak computer security.
  • The district did not run notices about tax increase proposals.
  • It did not run ads opening bids for bank deposits.
  • Bank interests were not credited to the proper funds.
  • The school supplies fund was not distributed according to state law.

School Board member Glendon Johnson questioned why school board members were left out of a March 15th meeting with state auditors when those findings were discussed.

Johnson said "We knew nothing about this. This is not a normal circumstance, so Dr. Drawdy, you should have invited one of these people, our attorney or David Blaine here, as a courtesy, to be sure there's no questions".

Some board members say they learned about the early audit findings through the media.

Board President David Blaine said "When we hear through media sources or community service about a preliminary exit audit, and we haven't heard about it, I think that kind of raises some red flags in the minds of the board members and that's the whole jist of this".

Granger said "When it becomes a situation that the state auditor's office calls us and says we need to meet with you and your superintendent, and they don't ask anybody else, then who are we to say ask someone else?"

Dr. Larry Drawdy says he was just following procedures from the state auditor's office. Dr. Drawdy said "This was only a preliminary audit. It wasn't the finals".

Board Attorney Gerald Blessey said "But I think the majority of the board is saying is in the future, they would like to be kept advised because it isn't just a routine situation".

Board member Madelon Gruich disagreed. Gruich said "This is a routine audit. I think that we are once again, if we try to insinuate ourselves in the daily operations of the school district, we're overstepping the authority of what this is intended to do".

In the end, everyone agreed to do a better job of keeping the board informed.

Blessey said "Better communication is what our board president is saying, what everybody here is saying. Hopefully, is that they want clearer communication about what is going on, not to tell you what to do, not to interfere with the day-to-day business, but to be kept advised".

The school district expects to receive a written report from the state auditor's office sometime next week. The school district then has five working days to submit an action plan to correct any problems.

Bonnie Granger made some recommendations to address some of the concerns of the audit. She wants to install a new computer system and software to handle accounting matters and hire at least one employee in the business office to keep up with buildings and equipment issues.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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