The board also saw what the 2014 budget planning calendar is going to look like, and each board member has also named their preferences to serve on the 2013 Facilities and Technology Committee, which is a 15-member group tasked with overseeing all SPLOST-related projects.
Board member David Morgan’s request for the academic audit would be similar to a financial audit conducted annually by a third party.
“We say we’re in the business of educating children and getting results, preparing them for a global marketplace, and I think it would behoove the board to actually put some type of policy in place as it relates to an annual academic audit,” he said.
A financial audit is mandated by the state and typically costs Cobb about $50,000 annually to conduct.
Morgan said he would like for a third party organization to review the district’s academic data and practices, comparing it to comparable districts nationally or internationally if need be, growth and culture in schools, leadership and possibly giving surveys for stakeholder feedback.
“This won’t mitigate compromise or stop anything we already have in place,” he said, in reference to checks and balances already being done by the district to help hold it accountable academically.
“I want to bring about transparency, accountability and public trust.”
Board members Kathleen Angelucci and Tim Stultz thanked Morgan for bringing up the idea, but Stultz said he thought it may be conducting something already done by the district. Angelucci said she thought the timing was bad when the district is about to deal with a nearly $80 million deficit in the 2014 fiscal year.
“Every month, Mr. Morgan tries really hard to keep us as a school board on that path of talking about academics, where our students are and keeping us focused on that aspect of it,” Angelucci said. “On the other hand … I’m not certain that we could entertain this time around, but I think that we need to consider it.”
Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa plans on presenting some cost figures and potential outside agencies to conduct the audit in April or May.
The district’s Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson also went over the budget calendar for 2014 so that board members will know what their responsibilities are over the next four months in preparation for approving next year’s budget no later than June 30.
Johnson said he plans to bring alternative funding methods to deal with the potential $80 million deficit around the end of March and shooting for the Cobb board to approve its budget by May 16.
Other dates for meetings will be:
• March 13: board budget work session
• March 21: budget presentation from Johnson’s staff
• April 17: board reviews 2014 tentative budget
• April 25: board adopts tentative budget
• May 13: 2014 budget and salary hearings
• May 16: tentative budget salary hearing and legal adoption of 2014 budget
In other business, 13 of the district’s 15-member F&T Committee members have been named, and three new faces are in the group: Charlie Dye, Larry Darnell and Mitch Gibson.
Hinojosa re-appointed long-time committee member Wallace Coopwood; Board Chair Randy Scamihorn, Gibson; Vice Chair Brad Wheeler, Dye and Darnell; Kathleen Angelucci, Thea Powell and Wayne Brown; David Banks, Dr. John Crooks and Angie Delvin-Brown; David Morgan, Patrick Stafford and Kimberley Euston; Tim Stultz, Todd Herrington and Curt Johnston; and Scott Sweeney, Roger Phelps.
The openings for Scamihorn and Sweeney will be filled at a later date.
“I look forward to representing the citizens of Cobb County again on this committee and ensuring that the Cobb County School District is managing the SPLOST funds in a fiscally responsible manner as outlined in the Georgia Constitution,” said Kimberley Euston.
She served as last year’s F&T chair and has served on the committee since 2008.
“This committee will continue to recommend to the board projects for approval that are in line with the SPLOST III notebook,” she said. “I expect this committee to continue to raise concerns around projects that are over budget/under budget and ask the tough questions as to why the projects deviate dramatically from initial estimates.”
The group meets at least once a month and will meet for the first time this year Feb. 19 at the Cobb County School Board Office, 514 Glover St. in Marietta, at 6 p.m.
The school board’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.