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City schools' chronic financial failings

Kudos to Erica Green for keeping on top of the Baltimore school finances ("Audit faults schools over federal funds," May 23). Many of the problems outlined in the most recent report can be traced to poor accounting procedures — including no documentation for time worked and inappropriate spending.

There are systemic problems that have persisted over time and need to be addressed. The schools should be getting financial advice from the network of advisers set up to guide schools on business matters. And the network advisers should get financial advice from the offices of finance, grants and Title I at the district level.

When I was on the city school board, the district had difficulties finding highly qualified staff experienced in government accounting and grants. These important positions frequently went unfilled. An effort should be made to examine these positions to make them more attractive to recruit qualified personnel.

Also, the school system should find ways to encourage the offices of grants, finance and Title I — both personnel and software systems — to better communicate with each other and end the silos that hinder effective performance.

James Campbell, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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