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Duval County Schools move forward on internal audit

Third-party, independent audit prompted by $21M in overspending by district

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a state Senate committee declined to conduct an audit of the Duval County school district requested by a state lawmaker, the school board elected to have the district's internal auditor complete a spending analysis report.

The lawmaker's request came after it was revealed that the school district went about $21 million over budget.

After the internal analysis, the board will decide the next steps toward hiring an independent, third-party auditor.

“That could be the state legislative auditor, the inspector general at the city of Jacksonville or some other outside party,” school board member Scott Shine said. “I think we need to be able to go back to the public in a transparent way and with credibility by having a third party come in and say, 'Here are the numbers that we have, and here's what happened.'”

Duval County School Board Chair Paula Wright said she thinks an independent audit should be done by someone without ties to the city.

Shine acknowledged the independent audit could be expensive, costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

“In the future, peer review -- I believe that's the answer: more eyes on the budget. And there's an expression carpenters have: You measure twice and cut once. So let's make double sure we're right with our budget before we move forward,” Shine said.

Shine said parents and the community should not be worried about the district's overspending, explaining that there won’t be any real change in the delivery of education services in the upcoming year and that the district has money reserved for instruction.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11. The current audit being done by the board auditor could take several more weeks to be completed.