Marlow, chair debate audit; board awards construction contract
September 06, 2013 09:27 PM | 3034 views | 3 3 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michelle Babcock

Cherokee Board of Education Member Kelly Marlow says she wants the school system auditor to come to a board meeting and publicly resolve her questions about the fiscal 2010-11 audit findings.

Following four failed motions by Marlow at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, she brought up that she wants to resolve questions she had about the audit, and reiterated her desire for the auditor to attend a School Board meeting.

Board Chair Janet Read told Marlow that if she wanted the auditor to come, she would need to present an agenda item so the district could research whether or not the auditor would charge for a visit.

“You also, since April, have said that you had seven pages of audit questions,” Read said to Marlow. “We’re still waiting on those. I also gave you the opportunity to speak with the auditor personally, as well as the opportunity to meet with Candler Howell, the chief financial officer, as well. The auditor does not work for us.”

Marlow then asked Read a question about the original contract with Mauldin and Jenkins, the auditors for fiscal 2010-11, and since Marlow’s questions dealt with day-to-day operations, Read asked the superintendent who the question should be answered by.

As Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo began to speak, Marlow interrupted, telling Read, “Madam Chair the question was for you.”

Read told Marlow she needed to request an agenda item to bring the auditor in, and told Marlow she was trying to get the answer.

“Ms. Marlow, I receive the information from staff, I don’t interact with the staff on my own, all right? So I am trying to get the answer for you, if you would just wait,” Read said.

Petruzielo then said he thought that “it is important for board members to follow the protocol we just outlined.”

“This is not just a matter of the staff doing the things that one board member wants them to do, this is a matter of the staff doing things that at least a majority of board members want done,” Petruzielo said. “So, the safest way to proceed, and I think the most appropriate way for Ms. Marlow to get the answers to her questions, is for her to bring an agenda item, and to see if at least a majority of the board agree that there ought to be some additional pursuit of questions and answers, as it relates to the former auditor for the school system.”

Petruzielo said “for some reason” Marlow has not given her “seven pages of questions” to the board for officials to answer them.

“To me that is drama, that is not policy making,” Petruzielo said.

Board member Michael Geist said, to “settle the question,” he would request the agenda item to determine if the board would bring the auditor to a meeting.

Cherokee High improvements

The School Board chose a contractor at its meeting Thursday night for a construction project to improve Cherokee High School athletic facilities.

In a unanimous vote, the board chose Womack, Lewis and Smith Inc. as the contractor for the upcoming improvements to the Cherokee High School athletic facilities, which are expected to cost $5.8 million.

Funded by voter-approved Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue, the project includes construction of a new softball field complex, new field houses with public restrooms for the football stadium, public restrooms for softball and baseball games, a press box and renovations of the existing football field.

Petruzielo said the project is long overdue, and thanked voters for supporting SPLOST.

“This project will improve the quality and safety of our athletic facilities … reducing students’ risk for injury and protecting their health and wellness during physical education classes and extra-curricular athletic practice and events, and also will make the spectator experience for fans of these sports more enjoyable,” Petruzielo said. “The Warrior Nation’s athletic complexes were long overdue for these upgrades, and we greatly appreciate the support of voters who renewed the Ed-SPLOST to fund them.”

Womack, Lewis and Smith made the lowest bid out of the three submitted to the local district, and received the highest possible evaluation score: 50 out of 50 for integrity, 45 out of 45 for experience, 40 out of 40 for pricing and all-around perfect scores, totaling 260 out of 260 possible points in the evaluation.

In other news, the School Board approved a proclamation in honor of Constitution Week, which was presented by the Hightower Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and approved a proclamation in honor of Firefighter Appreciation Week.

Copies of the proclamation, honoring local fire departments and volunteers, were given to Cherokee County Fire Chief Tim Prather, Woodstock Fire Chief David Soumas and Volunteer Coordinator Dr. James Kilgore, who was accepting the proclamation on behalf of Canton Fire Chief Dean Floyd who could not be at the meeting.

School Board member Patsy Jordan thanked people who were involved in positive events she had attended recently, including the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Clayton Elementary School, the E.T. Booth Middle School ribbon-cutting ceremony and a lunch at Freedom Middle School.

Woodstock Elementary School was recognized at the meeting for their recent 2013 Georgia Family Friendly Partnership School Award, and Principal Kim Montalbano and her leadership team were there to receive the honor.

The Sequoyah High School Air Force Junior ROTC program was also honored at the meeting, led by Lt. Col. Chuck Slater and Chief Master Sgt. John Futral, for their cadet’s success at the Cadet Officer Leadership School over the summer.

The board also approved the renewal of a partnership agreement with the city of Holly Springs, certified the close-out of all accounts relating to the completed construction of the replacement Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, approved a 2013-14 school year contract and annual memorandum related to the district’s Head Start and pre-K programs and approved the final reading of a policy change that complies with recent U.S. Department of Education guidance.

Four requests made by School Board member Kelly Marlow were denied at the meeting, three of which related to specific cost cap recommendations by Marlow, regarding the upcoming ethics violation hearing to determine if she violated board policy by sending a letter to AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in June.

The fourth request made by Marlow, which failed because it was not seconded by another board member, called for “a review of debt service plan and bond rating downgrade.”

According to School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby, as part of the district’s annual budget, there are already public hearings on the subject of the bonded indebtedness retirement plan. The 2012 Moody’s Investors Service report that Marlow requested a review of was out of date, as a new report was issued in July 2013, according to Jacoby.

Finally, the board agreed unanimously to do three hours of training with the board attorney and six hours of training with the Georgia School Board Association through various options.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No way!
September 07, 2013
Review of debt service plan? Discuss the bond rating??

NO WAY! The Superintendent will decide what's best for us - we DO NOT need to question this great man! We SHOULD NOT question this great man.

Go Away!
September 10, 2013
The debt service plan (as approved by voters) is published each year in the budget, which is on the school district website. The bond rating -- -again? Really? The bond guys came to a board meeting in June and went over it, then Ms Marlow trotted out her talking points again last month, til even Mr. Geist couldn't take it any more. ZERO dollars. So no, the rest of the Board disn't want to hear her "questions" (that aren't really questions) AGAIN. Can we please have an IQ test requires for election qualifying?
Jennifer Hall
September 07, 2013
Excellent summary of the meeting!
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