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Superintendent proud of 'clean' audit

September 21, 1999

An audit of the Washington County Board of Education shows it followed generally accepted accounting principles during the budget year that ended June 30, 1999. It also reports the board is in good financial shape.

Representatives of Keller Bruner and Co., the Frederick firm that conducted the audit, formally presented an independent report to the School Board Tuesday morning. They said they logged about 475 hours auditing the board's books.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said he was proud of the "clean" audit.

Board member Doris J. Nipps agreed. "I'm very happy," she said. "This is probably the best audit I've seen since I've been on the board."

Board President Edwin Hayes said the audit reflects well on the school system and the county. "It's great news for Washington County," he said. "Because we're clean, it makes the county look better."

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Using less substitute teachers to benefit schools

Schools that don't spend too much on substitute teachers will continue to get money back from the Washington County Board of Education, the board decided Tuesday.

Each school has an amount of money budgeted for substitutes each year. For the past two years, the board has given unused funds from that line item back to schools. The incentive program is intended to reduce the use of substitutes.

The board decided Tuesday to continue the practice after hearing that fewer substitutes were used last year in almost all schools. A committee of administrators studied the results last year and submitted recommendations to the board.

Clear Spring Middle School Principal Roger Stenersen said schools overall used fewer substitutes. While 10 schools used more, 29 used less, he said.

Stenersen studied the results for feeder district patterns as well as among elementary, middle and high schools.

"Whichever lens you put on the camera, we were improving in all those areas," he said.

The School Board decided to further discuss giving teachers individual rewards for good attendance. It is also considering adding teacher attendance to each school's accountability data.

Policy would affect consultant hiring

The Washington County Board of Education is considering a policy that would allow it to hire consultants without going through a formal bidding process.

The School Board on Tuesday held its first reading of a purchasing policy that also would eliminate price quotations for items that cost less than $10,000.

The current policy requires staff to get three written quotes for equipment, supplies and services that cost more than $2,000.

The change raises the limit. Under the proposal, items that cost between $10,000 and $15,000 would still require estimates from three different vendors. Items and services that cost more than $15,000 would still require a formal bid process.

In the current policy, bids are not required for architectural and engineering services. The proposed change also exempts consulting services. The proposal will take effect if it passes a second reading at the board's Oct. 5 meeting.

Booster Club to get loan

The Smithsburg High School Booster Club will receive a $10,000 interest-free loan from the Washington County Board of Education.

The board decided Tuesday to grant the "emergency" loan to the club for outdoor bathroom facilities built on an athletic field. The construction was completed before the club could finish raising the funds to pay for it, Executive Director of Support Services William McKinley said.

The club's president previously had requested a $20,000 loan and the board turned him down because the proper paperwork was not completed. Since then, the club filled out the forms and raised more money, according to board member Doris J. Nipps.

The board's emergency loan fund has a $40,000 balance, according to McKinley.

J.C. Ehrlich to provide pest control

J.C. Ehrlich Co. of Hagerstown will provide pest control service in public school cafeterias this year, but the Washington County Board of Education did not approve the company's bid.

The board agreed Tuesday that it was not necessary to formally approve low bids, as it has done for at least two years.

Earlier this month, Executive Director of Support Services William McKinley told the board it was not following its own policy. The board is required to approve bids only when they are not the lowest appropriate bid submitted.

Board member Herbert J. Hardin said the board should continue reviewing all bids. "I'm wondering why suddenly we're doing it a different way," he said. "I need more time to consider this."

McKinley said work is stalled when low bids must await board approval. He assured the board it will have written notice of all vendors' bids.

"I think we've put in enough safeguards," board member Doris J. Nipps said.

Four companies submitted bids for the pest control. J.C. Ehrlich's low bid includes monthly charges of $671 for work when school is in session. It charges $840 per month for work performed when school is not in session.

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