Fayette school board hires national audit firms for review of operations

Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk
Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk

The Fayette County school board voted Monday to hire national auditors to review school district operations at the request of Superintendent Manny Caulk.

Previously, Caulk asked the board to approve $600,000 for an overall review of the district, plus audits of its career and technical education program, and services for students who are in special education classes, are learning English as a second language or are identified as gifted and talented.

The Kentucky Department of Education is reviewing the district career and technical programs at no cost.

Contracts were awarded Monday to the Maryland firm Cross & Joftus for a comprehensive district diagnostic, review and action plan, and to Iowa-based Curriculum Management Solutions Inc. for audits of the English as a second language program and gifted and talented program. , The contracts are being negotiated, but the district review will be no more than $198,000, and theaudits will be less than $84,500 each, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.

School board members did not discuss the contracts Monday, but Deffendall issued a news release.

The board will discuss the special education audit on Dec. 3.

To help with the selection of firms, Caulk gathered input from more than 45 principals, teachers, district administrators, parents and community representatives. They served on panels to evaluate the 17 proposals received by companies interested in conducting the reviews.

Reviews will begin in January. In addition to an equity audit, the Cross & Joftus review will include an evaluation of the district across 10 areas, including operations, finance, human resources, school management and academics.

As part of his own review of the district, Caulk conducted listening sessions with community advocates in Cardinal Valley and the West End area of Lexington. Surveys of principals and employees in district support services have been completed.

A comprehensive survey of students, employees, families and community members will be conducted in January, district officials said. Caulk also will launch his listening tour in schools and community centers.

While Caulk has been meeting with some groups, he has not been present at most school board meetings since he underwent surgery in September to remove a malignant tumor from his sinuses.

“I’m anxious to be done with my treatments so that I can get back out into schools and classrooms,” Caulk said in the news release. “I’m still engaged in the daily operations of the district, but I miss being able to interact with students, teachers, school staff, families and our community.”

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears