Huntsville City School Board approves new consultants - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville City School Board approves new consultants

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Huntsville City School board officials held a special session Saturday to approve new consultants. Huntsville City School board officials held a special session Saturday to approve new consultants.

The Huntsville City Board of Education approved new consultants that aim to improve business practices within the district.

The school board held a special meeting on Saturday to further address business practice concerns that recently came to light following an internal audit.

Board members voted unanimously to bring in consultant contractors that will oversee future business operations. These include construction management companies Hoar Construction LLC and TCU Consulting Services. An individual consultant, Jim Lawson, will look into procurement.

In addition, business consulting firm Lean Frog Business Solutions will be used to track a range business operations like maintenance, information technology and human resources.

Board president Laurie McCaulley said approving these initiatives with consensus was a given.

The actions result from sober findings in an internal audit of business practices within Huntsville City Schools. They include an estimated $60 million of wasted money in the last decade.

Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski said it is a priority to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently in the district.

The superintendent ordered his chief financial officer, Frank Spinelli, to conduct an internal review of financial practices last summer.

The audit revealed a list of inefficient, wasteful and fraudulent practices, which included an over projected cost of building the new Lee High School. School officials say it cost the district $46.5 million to build the new school while consultants say it should have cost closer to $23 million.

Audit findings also indicated situations of fraud and theft that could possibly point to criminal activity, according to school officials. Dr. Wardynski declined to specify these cases but said they will be investigated at the state and city government level.

In addition, school officials said the district missed out on a potential $20 to $33 million of E-Rate reimbursements within the last decade. The Federal program gives discounts to public schools wishing to upgrade communications systems.

Board members on Saturday approved another motion to implement TekLinks, a new e-mail system that uses cloud computing technology.

Dr. Wardynski said Saturday's approvals secure the necessary steps to promote best practices, particularly as school officials work on a reorganization of employees.

School officials said the upcoming school board meeting on Thursday will possibly address the potential firings, demotions and transfers of school employees.

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