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Manatee School Board Given Presentation on Second Set of Findings from State Auditor General

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BRADENTON - At a special workshop meeting on Wednesday, Deputy Superintendent of Operations Don Hall made a presentation to the Manatee School Board on the initial draft of its report of the Auditor General's second set of audit findings detailing errors made to the district that could deal another financial blow to its budgets.

Superintendent Rick Mills said that rather than wait to do the second report on January 10, after submitting the first in December, drafts of both reports were written within a close time frame so that they could be delivered simultaneously. The reports are set to be submitted to the state after some final adjustments are made by Friday.

Of the $1.9 million total in costs from the findings, the one that would by far result in the biggest cost - the district's alleged insufficient documentation of charges to its ESE program for early intervention services - accounts for more than $1.5 million. 

Hall said that for that finding and all others, the district would look into its own documentation to see if the costs can be questioned and possibly mitigated. For costs that remain after said process, a payment plan with the state would be sought.

After going through how the district's action plan would be organized to deal with the findings, Hall advised that the entire action plan would be released to the board by January 17, and that 80 percent of the findings had already been written into the plan. 

Hall said that rather than wait for the state and federal DOE agencies to contact the district after the plans are finalized by January 17, "We're going take initiative to contact them to say, 'what can we do to move this process forward? What can we do to look at costs? What documentation can we show you to start dealing with these findings?"

After such communication had been made, Hall said that Mills and Board Chair Julie Aranibar would at some point go to Tallahassee "to see what else can be done to help the district with the cost issues. 

He plainly noted this was because a heavy toll would be taken on the district's budgets if all of the all of the costs described in the audits (more than $9 million altogether) were to be absorbed, and the district would not be able to meet its financial targets for the year. 

"We know that there will still be an impact (no matter what) ... now we're going to see how far down we can get the amount so that we can see what that does to our balance," Hall said.


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