FY 17 Audit for BCPS

 Below is the file for the first 39 pages of the FY 2017 Audit of Baltimore County Public Schools by the Office of the County Auditor.
 You can see previous years’ Audits here in the archives.

This is from the report and we will be awaiting the answers to these very important questions:

“BCPS should be prepared to discuss:

  • Why its budget document does not align to its actual spending patterns in recent years for key instructional costs such as salaries and instructional supplies;
  • The opportunity costs of funding the digital conversion/S.T.A.T. initiative and why BCPS has chosen to prioritize this initiative over other competing funding needs;
  • How vacancy rates compare for different types of instructional program positions, noting which positions count towards the staffing allocation ratios and which do not;
  • What staffing ratios could be achieved if turnover savings were reduced by $50 million;
  • The instructional materials being utilized in schools with and without digital devices, and whether a summary of the school system’s curriculum/plan for learning at each grade level is available; and
  • How long the school system’s top Risk Management and Purchasing positions have been vacant, and the reasons for the delays in filling them.
  • How and why BCPS has changed its planned digital device rollout schedule;
  • Performance data related to the implementation of the digital conversion/S.T.A.T. initiative, including student test scores in Lighthouse schools as well as program evaluation results;
  • Any challenges noted during the implementation of the digital conversion/S.T.A.T. initiative (e.g., students’ abilities to breach the devices’ security features, teachers’ abilities to balance digital and non-digital content in the classroom, reliability of internet access) and how these challenges have been addressed;
  • How the new FARM registration initiatives have affected program enrollment;
  • Results of independent (non-tech industry) studies regarding the benefits and drawbacks of classroom technology that BCPS has consulted during the implementation of the digital conversion/S.T.A.T. initiative;
  • Whether any usable computers removed from classrooms are idle and where these computers are stored;
  • The estimated percentage of students without digital devices who are assigned a textbook for individual use in each academic class, and how this percentage has changed in recent years; and
  • How BCPS responds to parent concerns regarding screen time and radiofrequency exposure and if consideration is being given to an “opt-out” alternative to digital learning environments;
  • Any impacts associated with redirecting school-based funds on the day-to-day operations of schools and activities (e.g., field trips, assemblies);
  • Short- and long-term strategies for addressing maintenance issues in County school buildings and how the proposed FY 2017 budget will impact those plans;
    • The implementation of the Community Eligibility Pilot Program;
    • The status of other hunger-related initiatives BCPS is pursuing; and
    • Any planned changes for the Educational Options programs or facilities.
    • How the current salaries for bus drivers, grounds workers, instructional staff, and other personnel compare to those offered by other jurisdictions;
    • The projected timeline over which BCPS plans to resolve certain staffing shortages; and
    • Outcomes from recent efforts to recruit additional Spanish, ESOL, and Special Education instructors.”

    This is an excerpt from the audit report that is near and dear to our hearts – thank you, county auditor, for bringing up risks to our children that parents are appropriately concerned about.

    Technology Exposure

    BCPS advised that since the rollout of the digital conversion/S.T.A.T. initiative, it has not budgeted funding for technology exposure studies geared toward developing an understanding of issues ranging from maximum recommended screen time for children to amounts of radiofrequency exposure. … However, the Baltimore Sun recently reported that doctors from Harvard and Yale medical schools attending an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies advised that “parents should limit their children’s use of cellphones, iPads, and other wireless technology because it could cause behavioral and concentration problems.” According to the Sun, while “There is little research on the impact of the microwave radiation and radio frequency radiation emitted by wireless devices on children…the doctors said early studies provide enough evidence to suggest that parents should exercise caution.”

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