Dougherty County School Board members Carol Tharin and Milton “June Bug” Griffin listen as DCSS Finance Director Kenneth Dyer explains the details of Darrell Sabbs’ contract with the system that is part of a state DOE probe into questionable Title I expenditures by the county.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree, dealing with the state department of education on two different fronts, attempted to assure the county school board Monday that he and his staff are working to meet a Sept. 28 deadline to either reclassify or reimburse $134,626 in questionable Title I expenditures.
In addition to the money, the state, in an Aug. 24 letter to the district, said the Georgia DOE is also requiring the system to hire two people of its choosing to oversee Title I, Part A expenditures and its FRM (free or reduced meal) application process.
"I want to assure the board and the community that we are working with the DOE to ensure compliance and develop new policies to meet an ethical and transparent environment," Murfree said.
Murfree said the DOE had designated former state child nutrition services director Ruth Gordon to monitor the system's FRM application process, but the department had yet to name a person to oversee the Title I, Part A expenditures.
At stake is more than $11 million in federal funding for FY 2013 that is currently frozen by the state. The federal fiscal year begins on Oct. 1
Board Chairman James Bush had two questions for the Superintendent.
"We are required to hire two new people. How much are we going to pay them and how are we going to repay this $134,000?" he asked.
Murfree said Gordon will be paid $400 per day with a cap of $15,000 and that the Title I monitor's rate will be determined once a person is named to fill the slot.
"We are working to reclassify those (questionable) expenditures right now," Murfree answered. "If the DOE doesn't accept the reclassifications, then we'll have to pay the money out of general fund reserves."
Board member Carol Tharin asked school system Finance Director Kenneth Dyer, "If we get into October and funding is still frozen, how do you intend on paying for our Title I programs?"
Dyer replied, "We have a reserve fund to use if necessary, but we have no intention of allowing the Sept. 28 deadline to pass without a resolution of this situation."
Murfree then pointed out that the state was looking at only 5 percent of the system's total Title 1 budget and sought to assure the board that the problems would soon be resolved.
The superintendent informed the board that a SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) re-accreditation team would visit the system on Sept 24 to begin its review process.
"Things are coming together well for the re-accreditation process," DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter said.
In board action, the group voted 6-0 to approve a nearly $300,000 budget to maintain and operate the system's CTAE (career, technology and agricultural education) programs for the 2012-13 school year.
The full board will meet again on Sept. 26 at 11:30 a.m. at Radium Springs Middle school.