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School Board questions Murfree on Title I expenditures

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.

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.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

What a shame to have the additional personnel for just checking to see if the money is being spent properly. However, I do feel a lot better having someone oversee how the controlling rogues and #34 manage the money. What a disgusting group.

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 11 months ago

Pastor Heard certified as a write in candidate, ok, when he is elected, I know he will help improve our system.

Riggins cleared of all charges, President Obama Re-Elected, and Pastor Heard Elect to At-Large School Board.

Welcome to the good life City!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

Most, if not ALL of that (Yes, LORD!) will NOT happen. Hopefully then you will take appropriate measures.

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tywebb 1 year, 11 months ago

you, and people like you, are dangerous to the city and the country. go ahead, vote based on color, we see where that's gotten us so far.....right in the crapper

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Gabrielblows 1 year, 11 months ago

Somewhere in the illiterate, impoverished world, a tiny village is missing it's idiot!

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jglass 1 year, 11 months ago

$400 per day?????? With a cap of $15,000???? And she is to do WHAT?

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 11 months ago

Oversee the FRM application process.

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agirl_25 1 year, 11 months ago

FRM!!!!!......FRM as in Free or Reduced Meal or a HORSE FEED brand!!...I used to feed FRM to my horses....please DON'T tell me Murfree and his band of merrymen is in the business of slipping horse feed into the budget now to feed somebody's horses after the rumor is out they fed their children free or reduced lunches....? My goodness...does it never end????? True your horses will never look or feel better, but for heaven's sake....give it a break.....didn't we go over this stealing by fibbing on forms to get free lunches for kids who were not entitled to them.....now they want the county to feed their horses? Is nothing sacred to you?????

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 11 months ago

Guess it's only gonna take 37 1/2 days to "verify" the applications. I suppose this is the "consultant" rate for those who used to work for the system and now receive a retirement check.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

At least the GaDOE recognized that IT should name the two people to be hired since everybody's cousins, brothers, sisters, and aun-tees were already DCSS employees.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

I checked back on the article to see if an update had been posted to read that #34 had been fired along with Betty Draper. I am disappointed. I still want a special grand jury to investigate the DCSB and Administration. The DA has recused himself from Velvet Riggins' prosecution so that excludes him from involvement with them so let the state send an attorney in from AG's office. We need to put the scoundrels behind the pipes or on the street which ever they deserve.

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lynn227 1 year, 11 months ago

They didn't fire Whatley when MCWharton mislaid over a million. Stop screaming for outsiders to come in an take care of what should be done in-house. We're paying enough money left and right. You're going to wish for it with all the lawsuits coming DCSS's way.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

lynn227, a grand jury investigation would clean out the DCSB as it should be. Now, in your note you have made several errors. First off you are mistaken in your timeline. Sally Whatley was not superintendent when the circumstances with the lunch money developed. Secondly, the person who was identified as a scapegoat for the problem with the federal lunch money asked to be put under oath in front of a grand jury. The person did not lawyer up. The school board did not fire the person they simply said we are going to suspend you for 30 or 60 days without pay. The individual told them, you do that and I'll quit because I am not going to be the fall guy. No federal or state investigator was brought in to question this person who quit and hung around for quite a while hoping someone would ask him/her under oath. Eventually the person moved to where their children had settled. The individual had been named person of the year twice in Albany for the great work he/she spearheaded during the floods here. He/she was and is quite an individual. There a lot of folks happy he/she did not talk to the press and they (school board) damned sure weren't going to put them in front of a grand jury. By the way, most people who were more than familiar with DCSS at that time know what happened. Ultimately, blame was assigned to misuse or late use of new accounting software. I believe the amount was between 2-3 millions of dollars.

And you are correct that it wasn't moral maybe even not legal but that doesn't excuse what is going on now. We have to clean the school board and administration up and out! NOW.

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Shinedownfan 1 year, 11 months ago

to coin a phrase of Sister_Ruby's... "BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA!!!" ...is that how you spell it?

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agirl_25 1 year, 11 months ago

First of all, Terry, thanks for not calling him Dr. since there is no proof so far he is in fact a PhD.....and I know, I know, I don't live in the county and have no business commenting but it is a free press and you know the old saying about opinions. Since no one knows if he is truly a PhD and is being paid the exorbitant salary he is being paid, plus perks I am sure, why not reduce his salary to that of principal and use the surplus and add it to what would be needed to make up the difference in questionable Title I expenditures? After all, he did help create them, he may as well help fix them. Voila' problem solved........

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dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

If you pay state and federal taxes, your dog is in the fight and commenting is appropriate. As to qualifications, who knows, not even the Shadow in this case. However, last night at the meeting, Murfree made a comment that does cause one to wonder. Did you know that the 180 school districts in GA have 255,000 BOE members? So he reported, but even Joe Biden would catch this one--and for goodness sakes not try to defend it once the faux pas crossed the lips!

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agirl_25 1 year, 11 months ago

OMG..dingleberry!!!!!!!! 255,000 huh..alert the masses...but wait...do you think he meant Brotherhood of Elk.......he could have had it mixed up, you know it can be confusing..looks the same ...BOE and ..BOE...easy to get confused......

Yoo hoo, Gabrielblows, if you see this........I do think the idiot the villagers were looking for has been found...he is alive and well in Albany, GA

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dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

Simple answer. Prima facie evidence of weakness in the mind, agirl. lol He also read a letter sent to the state trying to explain and mitigate the Title 1 fiasco. As I heard it, the hackles on a chihuahua would be raised and he is sadly mistaken if he thinks it helped the situation. Wish I had had a tape recorder attached to the ear trumpet, he is a low volume speaker and some of this needs to be heard more than once.

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agirl_25 1 year, 11 months ago

There's no way we can get him on YouTube, huh?

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tywebb 1 year, 11 months ago

dcss is in danger of losing its accreditation because of the board and super. Look at what happened to clayton county. If heard is somehow elected, the board will continue down its destructive path, right into the hands of a state takeover! Dr. Price is the one needed to help correct this problem. too bad maschke is leaving.

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dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

Don't think that Price can uncork this mess. Not that she won't try, mind you, but the DCSS runs it's own show and tells the BOE only what it wants to tell or is eventually forced to tell-- even FOIA responses are as it chooses. If the BOE , elected and responsible for oversight and direction, cannot get information from those who run the show, can one person really make that much difference? Change will most likely have to come from state pressure, the BOE can't do it at this point.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 11 months ago

dingle's remarks make sense. I would hope that a grand jury's presentments for either indictments or state control could stave off SACS' probation or de-accreditation. What really I do not understand is why no one in the community such as the Chamber of Commerce, Phoebe management, Mayor or County Commission has raised hell about DCSB. I work all over the SE region in my business and the two things I hear frequetnly is about the Dougherty crime and schools. If you are recruiting for this area your dying on the front line of marketing even though there are some pretty good aspects of SWGA and the community. Who can blame the base commanders for wanting Lee County schools to be available? I would hate like the devil to be a head hunter for a rare medical specialist to relocate to Albany.

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agirl_25 1 year, 11 months ago

Re: your last line.......that is why I, and so many others I have met in the area, go to UAB....none of those rare medical specialist want to come near Albany...and who can blame them?

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dingleberry 1 year, 11 months ago

SACS work starts this month with the BOE types to be interviewed on 9/26, same day as the next board meeting. Too late for anything to stave it off. Accreditation issues are what will bring the state in. If this is what brings it on, bring it on. We cannot continue like things are.

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Amazed2 1 year, 11 months ago

We the citizens of Lee County WELCOME the children of Military families from the MCLB. Hopefully you will consider staying in the area at the end of your service date and maybe you will relocate here permanetly.

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