A recent article in The Baltimore Sun (“Baltimore county senators want a more extensive audit of school system,” Jan. 26) noted that legislators are debating whether to formally request a legislative audit of Baltimore County Public Schools. The question is: Why not? A BCPS-proposed audit is insufficient, and the school board and district, while their efforts are appreciated, are not the appropriate bodies to ensure a needed level of review.
A district-hired audit cannot be objective if the scope is determined by the subject of the audit. In fact, controversial no-bid contracts are not substantially covered in the audit, under the request for proposals. Auditors would look at a group of bid-out contracts and a sampling of others. The BCPS-proposed audit also does not tackle a primary issue — the questionable Superintendent Rule 2002 that fosters multi-million dollar no-bid curriculum contracts in the first place. Apparently, there’s been $60 million and counting just among clients listed by the Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI), records show.
State auditors have criticized BCPS for failing to seek competitive bids in past audits: "A comprehensive procurement policy requiring competitive procurements for all types of purchases is a recognized best practice and it helps ensure fairness and integrity in the expenditure of public funds.” This is of grave concern to numerous constituents, several school board members, and the entire Baltimore County Council — an unprecedented level of bipartisan support (“Baltimore County Council seeks audit of school tech contracts,” Jan. 31).
And this is state and county taxpayer money, meant to meet the many varied needs of more than 113,000 students. What dollars could be discovered that might help hire another classroom aide, support school discipline efforts, provide free breakfasts, allow better pay for bus drivers and bring clear-running water and well-maintained heat and air conditioning to schools? In the end, one has to wonder about any resistance to a special review audit by the Office of Legislative Audits. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has said he does not support a wider audit. We need full transparency now, so the public trust in the school district can be restored going forward.
Joanne C. Simpson, Towson
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