By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg school board voted to let Asst. Supt. Steve Goss decide whether to switch auditing firms.
Goss presented the idea to the board at its March meeting at Indian Lake Elementary. The district has been served by the auditing firm of BDO for almost 30 years. But Goss has been considering a switch to Plante Moran for quite a while now.
It’s not a monetary-based decision; the fees for Plante Moran are comparable to BDO. “This is not a cost savings initiative,” Goss said. Instead the idea is that a new firm could potentially identify areas where the district could do better. “I think there is value in getting some additional perspective and a fresh set of eyes,” Goss said.
Trustee Rudy Callen agreed switching auditors was a healthy practice, saying he is familiar with how an auditor and the schools could become overly trusting and complacent. “It is common practice and it is good practice, even if it’s just for a year,” Callen said.
Goss noted Plante Moran would probably be expecting a commitment longer than a year. He also feels the firm may be a slightly better fit because it has a slightly stronger commitment to education. The firm serves more K-12 districts than any other in Michigan.
Most of the board agreed it might be in its best interest to have a more rigorous and potentially more revealing audit. Goss said while that could be a scary thing to think about, it’s also something that would be healthy.
He also said it won’t hurt the board’s relationship with BDO if it chooses to go back. “It’s a pretty routine thing. Clients are moving back and forth between auditors,” Goss said.
In other news at the meeting, Curriculum Director Gail VanDaff and Director of Technology Don Puckett gave a technology plan update. The schools purchased 2,600 new Chromebooks this year and almost every student at the schools has one.
And 180 new security cameras have been installed throughout the district. The next big project over the summer will be to replace aging paging systems in the schools. Puckett said most are probably around 30 years old.
Vice President Carol Lohman asked about the future of the computer labs now that Chromebooks have become commonplace in the schools.
Puckett said this will depend on the building. The elementary schools are still utilizing labs heavily as part of Project Lead the Way. Other labs may be re-purposed into classrooms or for testing or casual environments for students. The decision will ultimately be left to the principals.