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Legislative Services audit comes back with more than a dozen recommendations for Carroll schools

A recent audit of Carroll County Public Schools, done by the Department of Legislative Services, shows a total of 13 findings that require recommendations. The findings deal with issues from not always complying with established procedures governing school activity funds to technology privacy prevention issues to not implementing a process to verify reported project benefits of energy conservation contracts.

Despite more than a dozen recommendations, CCPS Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said the school system has known about many of the recommendations and has been working to fix them.

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“Overall, we’re pleased that these recommendations were relatively minor. There were no surprises,” Guthrie said.

This isn’t the only audit that came through recently — Guthrie said CCPS got back the Maryland State Education Department audit, which deals with anything state money touches. That came back clean, without any recommendations, he said.

Guthrie said the school system agreed with a majority of the recommendations. There were a few, he said, that dealt with technology that the school system either didn’t completely agree with or had already fixed by the time the audit was released. Some of the recommendations, Guthrie said, CCPS just doesn’t have the people to accommodate.

There were four technology-related issues that brought recommendations: CCPS having not established automated scanning procedures to identify all personally identifiable information maintained on its computer systems; monitoring of the student information system database’s security-related events did not include all sensitive activities and appropriate documentation; an intrusion detection prevention system existed for “internally originated network traffic,” but was not applied to “untrusted traffic entering the CCPS network;” and a lack of sufficient protection to CCPS’ network when it comes to Malware protection controls.

“We generally agree with the findings, [but] we do have some limitations on staff,” Guthrie said.

One of the recommendations stemmed from issues with financial disclosure forms.

“CCPS did not have a process in place to ensure that financial disclosure forms were properly completed and reviewed by the ethics panel, as required,” the audit reads. “Our test of 20 judgmentally selected employees and board members disclosed that while all 20 had submitted financial disclosure forms for filing year 2016, five of the forms were not properly completed, as four were not signed and the fifth was not the correct version (different versions exist for Board members and school system employees). In addition, the ethics panel was not documenting its review of submitted financial disclosure forms.”

The audit recommends all of the forms be properly completed and reviewed by the ethics panel.

There was some confusion over which forms needed to be signed, Guthrie said, but this issue was also immediately dealt with.

“I didn’t believe they rose to the level of a formal recommendation,” he said.

Another recommendation calls for CCPS to ensure schools are “properly administering school activity funds,” specifically calling for making sure schools properly control cash receipts by implementing and enforcing accountability measures, and making sure there is periodic audit coverage of schools with significant school activity funds.

One focuses on a lack of ensuring that certain parental approval was obtained to enable billing for medical assistance, one on a lack of independent review on certain payroll adjustments and another showed physical inventories of certain “sensitive equipment” were not properly performed and documented.

The ninth recommendation stems from a lack of process to verify reported project benefits of its energy conservation contract and the 10th from a finding that showed certain elements used to determine payments to bus contractors “did not reflect market conditions, were not properly documented, or did not consider available fuel credits, resulting in higher payments than necessary for student transportation services,” according to the audit.

Recommendation 12 involves establishing a procedure to verify the propriety of health care claim amounts and prescription drug rebates, and also ensuring supporting documentation for employee and retiree dependent eligibility is appropriate.

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The final recommendation calls for CCPS to reevaluate its current investment practices on a periodic basis.

The full audit, with recommendations, findings and CCPS response, can be found at www.ola.state.md.us/Reports/Schools/CarrollSchls18.pdf.

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