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Ringgold audit motion fails

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

The Ringgold School Board considered – and fought over – a motion to have an accounting firm verify figures previously presented by business manager Randy Skrinjorich.

But the motion at a special meeting Tuesday, failed – apparently by design.

“We were trying to satisfy people who doubted Randy's numbers,” board President Mariann Bulko said, shortly after voting no on the motion, which failed, 4-4.

The motion was to hire the district's auditing firm, Cypher & Cypher, to verify Skrinjorich's calculations for the cost of operating the Monongahela and Donora elementary centers – both closed – as middle schools as opposed to building a new middle school.

Skrinjorich had calculated the additional cost at $445,000.

Director Larry Mauro questioned the $2,500 to $3,000 expense for the audit, saying it was excessive because the firm would be just reviewing the business manager's calculations.

Director Bob Smith said he questioned the nearly half million dollar calculation for utilities.

Skrinjorich said the calculation included such costs as added transportation to carry students to two middle school buildings compared to one building, plus custodial services.

“When these figures were presented by Randy, no one agreed with them,” Bulko said. “Either you really want to know and verify their accuracy, or you don't.”

Director Chuck Smith said he initially disagreed with Skrinjorich's figures because he mistakenly thought they were just for utility costs.

“Charlie, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine it costs more to operate two buildings than one,” Bulko said.

In December, the board voted, 5-4, to hire an architect for a new middle school.

At that time, Bulko, Bill Stein, Chris Carroll, Carol Flament and Maureen Ott voted to hire an architect. Chuck Smith, Bob Smith, Gene Kennedy and Lawrence Mauro voted no.

Any plan cannot go forward until Ringgold begins the PlanCon procedure. PlanCon, short for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement for projects.

Before the board voted on the audit motion, Chuck Smith protested that board members received agendas just minutes before the special session began.

“I've been here since 6 p.m. for an executive session, yet I was given this five minutes before the meeting started,” Smith said. “You're trying to stick it down our throats.”

“Then vote it down, if you like,” Bulko said.

Chuck Smith voted down the motion, along with Bob Smith, Mauro – and Bulko.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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