Saturday, June 16, 2018
Education

Schedules add even more complications to the issue of a Hillsborough School Board auditor

TAMPA — It happened: The Hillsborough County School Board is arguing about when it should meet to decide when to schedule a vote at a future meeting.

The controversy surrounds member April Griffin's motion Tuesday to schedule a discussion and vote about hiring a financial auditor who would report to the board.

Griffin first introduced the idea of a board auditor in early 2013, when she was chairwoman, saying it would improve accountability. Her motion failed 4-3.

She won approval this time to place the item on the June 24 meeting agenda, despite the fact that Candy Olson -- one of the four who voted against her idea in 2013 -- will not be there.

Since then, member Stacy White learned that chairwoman Carol Kurdell -- who also voted no in 2013 -- will not be there either on June 24.

"I am concerned about making such a major decision with only five board members present," White wrote in an email to Kurdell Wednesday morning. "I believe that all seven board members should be present as we consider a decision of such magnitude."

White asked that the meeting be scheduled to 5:30 p.m. on June 17.

Instead, Kurdell slotted it for 11 a.m. on that date, between two board workshops.

White did not object.

But member Cindy Stuart did.

"This is not in keeping with the way of work in which this board conducts business and should not be considered," she wrote.

And so did Griffin.

"As you are well aware, I was not scheduled to be at either of the workshops on Tuesday, June 17" she wrote in an email to Kurdell at 11 a.m. Thursday.

"As the maker of the motion I object to you using your power as chair to call a special meeting that I am not able to attend. Aside from this fact, I believe that what you and Stacy White have done goes against our established way of work and sets a dangerous precedent."

Board attorney Jim Porter said White had a right to ask for the meeting to be rescheduled, and Kurdell had a right to choose the time.

He pointed out that the board will not vote on the idea itself, just on the scheduling of the discussion and vote.

Scheduling could be difficult, however, as member Susan Valdes plans a vacation in July and Stuart in August.

Porter, meanwhile, is researching the audit idea, at the board direction. Gretchen Saunders, the district's chief budget officer, is also looking into it.

"The issue is not going to go away at the special meeting," Porter said.

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