Superintendent Richard Franklin informed the BISD board that the State of Michigan has hired an independent auditing firm to re-audit the Barry ISD books.
With less than one week's notice, Barry Intermediate School District officials opened their doors on Dec. 9 to a new auditing team hired by the State of Michigan that arrived with no introduction – or explanation – from state officials.
“We were informed last week,” BISD Superintendent Richard Franklin told board members at their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 10. “We were contacted by Maner Costerisan and informed that a team of auditors would be arriving at the Barry ISD to perform an audit on Monday and they requested to have information ready and available for them.”
Franklin said he was aware something was in the works after being informed on Dec. 4 that a Request for Proposal had been issued by the state for an independent auditor to re-audit the BISD. No contact, however, was apparently ever received by local officials from the state.
On Mon. Dec 9, four auditors from the Lansing-based firm Maner Costerisan arrived at the Barry ISD. Before the auditors left, they informed Franklin that they would be returning on Wednesday to continue their audit. During their time at the Barry ISD Franklin said they interviewed several employees and had various requests for information.
Upon learning about the new and unannounced audit, Barry ISD legal representative Margaret Hackett of the Thrun Law Firm sent a formal letter to the state stating that the Barry ISD is considering this a new audit and that these auditors will start a completely new audit.
Franklin said during his interview with the auditors, they confirmed that this is an entirely new audit and they are not trying to hunt down any additional information from the past audit.
BISD board member Deb Hatfield asked Franklin who would be paying for this new audit and Franklin responded that it would be the state covering the complete cost.
Overall, Franklin said that he and the rest of the staff at the Barry ISD found these new auditors to be very professional and easy to work with.
All of this comes following Barry ISD’s request for a formal review of the audit performed by a team of five auditors from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) in April. The team looked at five different grant programs offered by the Barry ISD. The programs audited were the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Great Start Collaborative (GSC), Raise to the Top, IDEA, and Early Childhood. Following their audit, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) recommended the removal of the Great Start Readiness Program, from Barry ISD’s administrative and financial control.
Hatfield and other members of the Barry ISD board said they welcome this new audit and expressed their eagerness and desire to see this new audit once it is complete.
The Barry ISD has added a new position due to the growth it has seen in the Early Childhood Special Education program for preschool-aged children. Barry ISD determined that it needed additional support in the classroom. Regarding the growth of the program, Franklin said: “it is growing in leaps and bounds.”
The board also voted unanimously to approve the hire of Britney Curtis at a Paraprofessional for the classroom. Curtis recently moved back to Michigan and has previously worked at the Barry ISD but ended her employment when she moved away from Michigan.
Dawn Weeks said, “At the beginning of the school year, there were three students enrolled in the morning class and five students enrolled in the afternoon class. The classes have now grown to nearly ten students in each class.” She added that the state does not require a paraprofessional for a classroom until there are twelve students, but she believes this hire would be in the interest of student safety.
In other business the board: