The Gibson Consulting Group Inc., based in Texas, will conduct an audit of the program evaluation review, which looks at the school system's evaluation process, and education program overlap, which identifies duplication of services, at a cost of $45,000. Earlier this month, the School Board gave the company the OK to conduct audits in the areas of noninstructional performance measurement/annual reports; enhancement of budget document; improve special education services delivery; improve equity, adequacy and understanding of special education staffing formulas; and ensure proper identification and referral to special education, at a cost of $95,000.
School Board member Ernestine Heastie (Providence) was the sole dissenter to the new items.
"I'm going to oppose this because we are raising the amount we are going to spend to $200,000 for this audit. We have already paid $125,000 to Gibson and have received a six-page list of items that might produce savings," Heastie said. "I object to spending anymore money until we get any results on the already approved audits."
After reviewing all the data pertaining to the school system, the independent auditor returned with a list of 36 items it felt merited more in-depth review. At the time, the School Board had half of the $250,000 it had set aside for the project still remaining. In addition, the county Board of Supervisors has chipped in the $30,000 remaining from the now defunct Communities That Care youth survey.
The board was split over which items should be approved with the remaining funds right up until the end, said Jane Strauss (Dranesville), the board's finance and budget committee chair.
"About 3 p.m. [Thursday] afternoon there were enough votes to go forward," Strauss said Friday afternoon. "People were all over the board, especially when we were given so many choices."
The program evaluation review will examine how the school system conducts its own evaluation of programs, not the merits of the programs themselves. The education program overlay will identify unnecessary duplication of programs and services.
Strauss said representatives from Gibson are expected to return to the School Board with results from at least some of the approved studies sometime in June or July.