School Board: 2 Failed Audits and More FSA Complaints

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BAY COUNTY-- Since the scores for last year's Florida Standards Assessments were released a few weeks ago, various groups in the district and state have voiced serious concerns over the state's accountability system.

Now, a local group representing teachers is also joining the call for change.

Denise Hinson, the Vice President for the Association of Bay County Educators, addressed the school board on Tuesday.

While she addressed the board in her organization report, Hinson spoke on behalf of teachers who have reached out to the organization. She said they are frustrated over the scores and say that it's not an accurate representation of teachers or students.

Hinson said she believes some annual contract teachers in particular may be afraid to speak up about how they feel.

She said she, and many others she has talked to, feel that teachers in the public school system have been "under attack."

"The negatives are always being thrown at public schools," Hinson said. "You know, what we're not doing, what we're not producing, how we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing. And that's the attack I'm talking about."

Hinson said the ABCE calls on the board, families, lawmakers and everyone in the education system to work on demanding a reform in the accountability process to a place they feel is more accurately representative of students and teachers.

The ABCE isn't the only group to voice concerns over the test. The Florida Association of District School Superintendents also addressed the state Board of Education, stating that as a group, the superintendents lost confidence in the state's ability to administer statewide testing. The state's Parent Teacher Association also filed a similar statement.

The FSA scores from last year won't directly affect students. Teachers, however, and the schools where they work will be evaluated on the scores.

Also during the school board meeting, the board addressed two failed internal audits.

Like any other large business, one of the largest employers in Bay County, the district, is routinely audited. The most recent audit inspected money and data from last year for 15 different Bay County schools.

Deer Point Elementary and CC Washington Elementary both failed their internal audits. An internal accounts auditor found in that both cases, accounting records were not up to date, checks and invoices were not properly logged nor petty cash maintained among other policies that were not followed.

But during the board meeting Chairman Steve Moss, Superintendent Bills Husfelt and other board members expressed that they did not think the mistakes were the result of any ill-will or foul play.

Moss explained that while the audit did not reveal any malicious behavior in regard to money management, he believed that it didn't mean it wasn't worth noting.

"You might think, eh, it's not that big of a deal," Moss said. "But again, when you're dealing with money, and you're dealing with finance, you've gotta make sure you really dot every I, cross every T to make sure you're following those policy and procedures. Because if you don't, it'll get you into big trouble."

Husfelt also said that no money had been taken from either school. He added that he had spoken with the principals involved in to both audits. One of them, in a letter to the district, acknowledged and apologized for what she identified as "sloppy bookkeeping" the previous year.

Both Husfelt and Moss confirmed that the schools and people involved would be correcting their mistakes and getting the proper training to ensure they follow proper protocol.