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Lee school board removes empty auditor position

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

The Lee County School Board voted 4-1 to remove the vacant position of board auditor from district records at a meeting Tuesday.
Board member Bob Chilmonik asked the board to reconsider the motion and cast the only dissenting vote.
The board auditor position has been vacant for nearly two years after former auditor Julie Nieminski left Lee County.
Chilmonik said a board auditor saves the district in the long run by eliminating wasteful spending. He said the description should be kept on record in case the board wants to fill it in better economic times.
“I think we should keep that position on the books, even though it’s not funded at this point,” Chilmonik said. “We went through a lot of workshops in setting up that job description.”
Other board members agreed with Chilmonik. It took the school district 18 months to create the job description and they did not want to see all of the hard work deleted.
Lee Schools Superintendent James Browder noted that even though the position is not funded, it works against the county on the state’s ratio of administrators to teachers.
“The reason this position is being deleted is because when the state puts together the cost we spend on administration, it is left on the organizational chart, it counts as administrative positions,” he said.
Browder said the position would be accessible in the future if the board changes its mind.
“All of those positions will be held in human resources and can be reactivated at any time the board directs,” he said.
Chilmonik later asked the board to direct Browder to find the funds to fill the auditor position, which oversees the $1.4 billion school district.
Board member Elinor Scricca said budget challenges prevent the district from finding the money to fill the vacant position.
“Even though an auditor would be a very good thing to have now, my vote will always go for the classroom so that our teachers have what they need,” she said.
Last year the school board entered into an interlocal agreement with Clerk of Court Charlie Green to conduct board-directed audits at a lower price than what other companies would charge.
Board member Jeanne Dozier supported deleting the position, but said that she would be open to filling it once the funding is available.
“In the future, if there is a time when we have additional funding, I will be rallying with you to put that position back in place,” she said.
Vice chairman Steve Teuber voted for removing the position, noting that the state and independent contractors regularly audit the school district.