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Hillsborough School Board leader to call for independent auditor

TAMPA — The chairwoman of the Hillsborough County School Board wants to hire an independent auditor, she plans to announce at Tuesday's meeting.

April Griffin had hoped to put the idea to a vote at her first meeting as chairwoman, Dec. 11. But after speaking earlier that day with superintendent MaryEllen Elia, she postponed it.

"I gave her the courtesy of waiting on it," Griffin said.

As Griffin sees it, the auditor, who might work on a contract basis, would report to the board and not the administration. He or she would take on assignments that would include, but not be limited to, financial audits. The goal, she said, is to strengthen accountability among the district and its administrators. Fellow board members Candy Olson and Doretha Edgecomb said they would not rule out the idea but had questions.

"I would want to know how this would work in terms of the relationship with the board," Edgecomb said. "I would like to know what evidence there is that we need an auditor, how much money it would cost and how better that money might be saved in other ways."

Olson also wanted more specifics before she would consider the idea. "I would want to be careful that they were working for the entire board," she said.

She said she might consider hiring an auditor for a year, but would want to evaluate the arrangement. Olson also cautioned against putting the idea to a vote too soon.

"The public would have to have a chance to comment on it," she said, suggesting that Griffin not call a vote until a later meeting.

Griffin has made it clear that she does not intend to move slowly in what she is calling her last term before she runs for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

At the Dec. 11 meeting, she passed two measures to clarify the board's instructions to staff and track outstanding requests for information.

"What I'm trying to do is create clarity for our staff," she said.

Hillsborough School Board leader to call for independent auditor 01/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 11:00pm]

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