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CCSD Board Moves To Defend Itself
3/30/2016 3:47:16 PM

Dr. Nancy McGinley

Chris Collins

Tom Ducker
By Barney Blakeney

Former Charleston County schools Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley should have kept her mouth shut and let the Charleston County School District’s budgetary fiasco just play itself out. After McGinley publicly indicated school board members were irresponsible in performing their due diligence monitoring budget wrangling that produced an $18 million shortfall, the board last week came out swinging in self defense.

McGinley, in a daily newspaper editorial said county school board members knew, or should have known, about the details that produced the budget shortfall because she told them. Board members are pointing to the results of a recently released forensic audit report that indicates certain budget information was hidden from them. One school board official said the report indicates administrators either were incompetent or intended to deceive the board.

So we asked board members whether they were duped. They pointed to clauses in McGinley’s severance package that prohibits board members from disparaging McGinley. Last week the board approved spending more money it doesn’t have to hire two outside attorneys to advise them about legal standings. Essentially, the board wants to know whether anybody stole or mismanaged money, and can they say that if so.

Veteran board member Rev. Chris Collins, who is seeking re-election in November, said as the board tries to figure out what it can do after agreeing to tie their own hands, there may be repercussions at the polls. Voters must understand board members aren’t involved in the day-to-day administration of the district although they have fiduciary and oversight responsibilities, Collins said.

Board member Tom Ducker, who isn’t seeking re-election after serving only four years, said the non-disparagement agreement between McGinley and the board is standard. But as indicated by the forensic audit, budgetary indiscretions were ongoing in the administration for several years. To think board members knew about those indiscretions means different boards over different periods in time were in collusion, he added. That’s unlikely, he said.

Ducker, who’s been the board’s ‘Cool Hand Luke’ during his four years offered that constituents should allow the board to unravel the budget crisis and suggests straightening the mess out may not be as painful as early warnings indicate. School closures and extensive jobs losses likely won’t happen, he assures.

But these early rounds of budget issues may be the tip of the iceberg, according the aforementioned school official. Nobody’s begun to look at the capital improvement financial reports that covers nearly a billion dollars over the past 15 years, she said.

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