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Clerk of Courts to handle audits for school board

By Staff | Mar 25, 2009

The Lee County School Board passed two motions Tuesday night that transform the way the board conducts business.
Board members unanimously approved a local agreement with Clerk of Courts Charlie Green for auditing services, and voted 4-1 to change the process of evaluating Superintendent James Browder and Board Attorney Keith Martin.
For months the board was criticized for declining to fill the board auditor position vacated by Julie Nieminski at the end of 2007. Some board members also expressed concern over the safety of the district’s finances and procedures.
Board member Jeanne Dozier brokered the deal with Green to provide auditing services on a case-by-case basis. At any time the board can submit certain areas to be audited, she said, and the agreement is a money-saving option for the school district.
“It will eliminate that $100,000 for that position we had, and we might even want to go a step further and eliminate that position at some point,” said Dozier. “This is something I worked diligently on with the Clerk of Courts office.”
Vice Chairman Steve Teuber said the agreement is less expensive, and he added that the district has the opportunity to learn best practices from Green’s office.
Later Tuesday night the board also approved changes to the superintendent and board attorney evaluations. Board member Robert Chilmonik voted against the changes because it removes the highest and lowest ratings.
“We need to have five board members with each of us giving our opinion whether we like it or not like it,” said Chilmonik.
For evaluations each of the board members submit an evaluation rating the superintendent or board attorney from a 1 to 3 in a number of areas. The new system removes the highest and lowest ratings submitted.
Dozier said it had always been a custom to remove the outliers, and the motion will simply make it concrete as board policy.
“This was a process that existed in this district for many years, but when we had some change in status in our office that’s when it got dropped and wasn’t happening,” she said.
Board member Elinor Scricca said the new system is more reliable because it values the middle ground and not the extreme high or low.
Kuckel added that it makes more sense statistically.
“It makes sense to look at the three in the middle,” she said. “If we had 40 or 50 evaluations you can average them together.”