Panel grapples with bus audit
September 2, 2010
Members of the Warren County School District’s Finance Committee found themselves in an awkward position Tuesday evening.
According to Business Administrator Petter Turnquist, the state auditor wants the school board to approve each of the bus drivers working for the district’s several transportation contractors, as well as the bus routes and rosters.
Committee members had no problem with the idea of making sure the people driving buses full of district students were checked out.
However, the drivers are already checked and having to approve every driver could leave the district with some liability problems when a contractor has to find a new driver on short notice.
The contractors provide the drivers’ licenses and clearances to the district and the contractors check those documents for each of their drivers.
“We were always under the impression that approving the contractor was sufficient,” Turnquist said.
“They’re saying that even though we are subcontracting, we have to approve their employees?” board member Kim Angove, who sat in on the committee for the evening, asked.
Board member Arthur Stewart cautioned the committee and the board members present about possible repercussions to board approval for employees of subcontractors. “Think of the practical ramifications,” he said. If a new driver who is not approved by the board fills in on a route “does that somehow cast liability on us?”
Angove asked if the board had any choice.
“Are we going to have something (in writing) from the state auditor that says we have to do this?” she asked.
Committee member Mary Anne Paris, acting as chairperson, suggested the committee move the matter to the full board for discussion and directed Turnquist to check with district Solicitor Chris Byham regarding the legal issues of the situation.
While on the topic of transportation, Angove asked administrators if the transportation department had been directed to cut costs by eliminating some bus stops.
She said parents had contacted her about bus stop issues, which is not unusual at the start of a school year, but was concerned because they were saying they were told stops were eliminated due to “budgetary issues.”
“It was not a directive from me,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Terrill said. However, “it’s always good to economize.”
Turnquist said there was no directive issued, but that the district looks for ways to keep costs down.
Terrill said he had looked into issues brought to him by Transportation Director Kimio Nelson. In one case, he initially supported Nelson’s decision to eliminate a stop, but later reversed that position because the stop was a long-standing one and would cost the district very little to maintain.