Some schools use government's efficiency audit


by Karen Hopkins

Posted on September 15, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 15 at 6:22 PM

HAMPTON ROADS--- Some Hampton Roads schools are saving millions of dollars through a voluntary state program, but many districts aren't signing up.

"It makes you wonder. Why wouldn't they be participating in it? If it's that much of a budget crisis why not take advantage of outside help?" Virginia Beach parent LeAnne Durham said.

The help comes from the Virginia Department of Education. It's an efficiency audit. An outside company finds wasteful spending in districts, from food, transportation, teaching to administration. If districts make the advised changes, the state pays for 3/4 the cost of the audit.

"To me it's a no brainer to do an efficiency audit," Newport News school board member Betty Dixon said.

Many Hampton Roads schools have already done one, saving millions of tax dollars. Norfolk and Portsmouth each saved more than $2million and Hampton saved $8 million. Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Newport News haven't participated.

"I can't think of an argument against an audit during these tough economic times," Virginia Beach Education Association President Dominic Melito said.

The Newport News school board is looking into doing an audit. Board member Betty Dixon thinks the district has too many high paying administration positions. She say the report would show if that's true.

"To have proof from the Department of Education that we are not top heavy and that we are not wasting money at the top level," Dixon said.

Dixon says her opponents say the district can't afford to pay about $15,000 for the audit upfront. But Durham says if schools save millions, it's worth it. She'd like to see teachers get raises and schools to save important programs.

"It would be a shame to see programs go, especially unnecessarily if they can cut somewhere else."

The Newport News school board will vote on whether to do the audit Tuesday.