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Columbus Schools Poised To Hire More Auditors

Columbus schools are poised to increase staff and money for the office of internal auditor. The proposal is expected to be considered as early as next month. District internal auditor Carolyn Smith is asking the school board to increase her staff from 5 to 13 over the next three years and nearly double the office budget.

"Right now it's under, safe to say, under $700,000. It will certainly go over $1.2 million dollars," says Smith.

Smith's office was the first to report discrepancies last year in the district's student and attendance data. The alleged data-rigging then prompted investigations by state and federal authorities. She says more staff is justified to keep track of risky practices and improve compliance with state mandates and board policies. "The goal would be to improve upon our external audit findings and also to be preventative in identifying potential high-risk areas," says Smith. But the request for more staff and more money comes at a time when the board is looking for ways to make deep cuts. Board member Gary Baker says pending budget cuts actually boost the need for closer scrutiny. "As budget pressures do mount," Baker says, "the need to have an active, effective, internal audit staff also increases." Baker says the expansion is necessary in an organization as big as the Columbus school district with a total funds budget of 1.3-billion dollars.