Announced via press release:

Yesterday, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball sent a memorandum to the Howard County Council, informing them of the revised scope of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) performance audit he had initially called for in June. Moving forward, Ball plans to submit an amendment to the audit resolution that will reflect a finalized scope. The amendment deadline for the County is July 25th with planned Council action on July 29th.

Ball’s resolution (CR-108) called on the Maryland State Department of Education to contract for a performance audit of HCPSS to determine how to spend more efficiently. Since the filing of CR-108, Ball and HCPSS have been engaged in a collaborative, ongoing dialogue on how best to define the scope of the proposed audit. The scope was narrowed down from a longer list, based on an HCPSS commitment to share other information that may also generate cost-saving opportunities. The memo to the County Council, in the interest of being transparent and inclusive of their input, established that shared scope, anchored around four key issues: 

1. Health and Dental Fund

  • By comparing to other school systems, what cost-saving opportunities exist in this fund? What are the legal and financial impacts of carrying a historical deficit in this fund?

2. Budgeting and Actual Expenditure Variance

  • With some budget categories consistently under budget and some consistently over, how can we explain the variance and better align our future budgets with actual experience?

3. Personnel Cost Development

  • How can we work to improve the accuracy of future personnel cost calculations?

4. Supplemental Income/Non-Salary Benefits

  • By comparing our non-base salary benefits to those in other school systems, can we find opportunities to save and improve?

“Today marks a cooperative step forward in our journey to evaluate our school’s spending and find ways to better support all our children and educators. I want to thank the Howard County Public School System for their help in determining the best focus areas for this performance audit,” said Ball. “I still believe that every educator, student, parent, and resident in Howard County deserves to know exactly how and where our money is being spent. Working together, we will continue to ensure this audit process builds even more accountability and helps us find the best financial path forward.”

“After very constructive discussions with the County Executive and his team, we were able to establish a scope of the audit through consensus, and one which will yield meaningful recommendations that validate or improve our budgeting practices moving into the future,” said Dr. Michael Martirano, HCPSS Superintendent. “I am pleased that County and HCPSS staff have worked together in a collaborative manner and support the narrowed scope of the performance audit as well as the information requests.”

“The Board supports all efforts to identify process improvements and welcomes the participation of the County Executive and County Council to identify budget efficiencies and other areas that need additional support,” said Mavis Ellis, Board of Education Chair. “I’m grateful for the continued collaboration of our county partners to ensure that the needs of our students and staff are identified and being met.”

In his memo, Ball also explained to the County Council, “feedback and input are welcomed as my administration and HCPSS work toward finalizing a mutually agreed upon performance audit scope that informs our budgeting processes and practices for years to come. The draft scope provided above has been narrowed through collective discussion and is mindful of potential expenses associated with a performance audit, which our administration is committed to covering in the interest of generating long-term savings and process improvements.” 

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I wrote back on June 27th “Howard County Board of Education Members, HCPSS Superintendent and County Executive Ball Meet To Discuss The Proposed Audit“. Based on the information provided in the press release today it sounds like the meeting was productive.

Now will the County Council pass the legislation as is or will they expand the scope to include other areas to review?

Also….I sincerely hope the results of the audit are shared with the public. This is playing out in public and there will be a great many that will be interested of the final results and raw data.

Scott E

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