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Dec. 17, 2009

Blair underwent MCPS internal audit

by Warren Zhang, Managing News Editor and Ombudsman
At the end of last year, according to Blair financial secretary Donna Franklin, Blair underwent an internal audit conducted by the MCPS Internal Audit office, a subdivision of the MCPS Office of Shared Accountability. The auditors, according to social studies teacher James Mogge, have given Blair recommendations based on the audit, including suggestions for a more systematic method of organizing field trips, which has increased teacher preparation to arrange a field trip.

Franklin said that this financial audit was part of an internal audit program. According to Roger Pisha, MCPS Internal Audits supervisor, the auditors analyze records at schools during their investigation to ensure that schools operate within MCPS guidelines. "Auditors review school operations to determine compliance with MCPS policies, regulations and procedures as well as federal, state and local laws," he said. The records being audited include operation of school stores, yearbooks and school based finances.

Once the auditors have finished analyzing the records, Franklin said that the auditors present the findings, along with suggestions for improvement, to the principal.

Pisha said that auditors issue an official report, detailing specific findings and recommendations for correction. Franklin also said that the past internal audit was conducted by a team of two MCPS auditors.

Among the suggestions from last yearís audit was more rigorous organization of field trips, according to Mogge. The administration announced their implementation of this suggestion, Mogge said, at the beginning of the school year during a staff meeting. "Teachers have to be very systematic," he said. "We have to have a more effective system."

Mogge said that teachers now have a new form to fill out for organizing field trips. Additionally, Mogge said that teachers now have to give the administration a month advance notice before going on a field trip though the administration previously asked teachers to inform the administration two weeks prior to a field trip.

Social studies teacher David Whitacre stated that teachers seeking bus transportation for the field trip must complete even more paperwork.

According to Mogge, teachers now have stricter requirements for the way in which they collect field trip fees, report fees collection and deposit the fees.

Mogge, who recently had the experience of organizing field trips for his world history class, found the new procedure to take more time than the previous methods. "I think the new rules are a little more time consuming," he said.
While Mogge said that the new procedures were a burden on teachers, he said that the new system should be effective and teachers must be the school employees to deal with these field trip responsibilities. "Money collected is getting where it needs to go," he said. "Itís hard to delegate this task to someone else."

According to Pisha, MCPS internally audits all of its high schools each year. "The plan is to audit high schools every 12 months, middle schools every 18 months, and elementary schools every 36 months," he said. "Schools are audited throughout the year."

In addition to the internal auditing MCPS does in high schools, Franklin said that an outside, external group also occasionally audits Blair. Pisha said that MCPS Office of Internal Audits randomly selects schools to externally audit. "The MCPS external auditors annually select several schools at random to review," he said. According to Franklin, the last time Blair was audited externally two years ago.



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