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Audit issues could be costly

October 15, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Teachers may be needed to work over the summer to rewrite lesson plans following a curriculum audit that found a wide range of problems in Washington County schools, and positions that were eliminated due to tight budgets may have to be reinstated, school officials told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday.

Bouncing back from the audit will cost money, although school officials could not say how much.

"This has been a very bitter pill to swallow," Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Theresa Flak told the commissioners.

The audit, released Sept. 4, revealed a dysfunctional organizational structure in the school system, shortcomings in curriculum development, high dropout rates among blacks and others and infrequent use of computers in classrooms.

The 177-page report also found problems in how black students are placed in special education programs and said inequities exist among schools in the availability of library books and media equipment.

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Interim Superintendent Linda Barkdoll said the Board of Education would need money to pay teachers to rewrite curriculum because they are not paid in the summer. School officials did not say how extensive the process would be.

Barkdoll said an example of positions that had to be eliminated in past years due to budget constraints were director of high schools and director of middle schools. The duties were combined into a position of director of secondary education, but it was too much for one person, Barkdoll said.

The school district will probably have to consider reorganizing, a process that could include schools in addition to the central office, Barkdoll said.

Commissioner James R. Wade said he thinks the commissioners are willing to consider the funding requirements to correct problems indentified in the audit, but he said other things need to happen.

Parents need to keep their kids from watching television and playing ball when they should be doing their homework, and school officials have to realize that too many kids are being promoted to the next grade when they have not met all their requirements, said Wade.

Wade, however, praised school officials for raising the passing grade in high school from 60 percent to 70 percent, although there was concern it might affect some students ability to play sports.

"I could care less about that," Wade said.

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