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CCSD Budget: We’re All Stupid Suckers Who Don’t Know How Bad It Is
3/23/2016 5:11:18 PM

Elizabeth Moffly
By Barney Blakeney

Are Charleston County school board members and the voters who elect them stupid, suckers or stupid suckers? As the school district and constituents respond to the $18 million budget shortfall revealed last year, former county school board member Elizabeth Moffly says we may be all of the above.

School district officials recently received findings of a forensic audit conducted after the budget shortfall was made public late last year. But there were no surprises. The district’s new Superintendent, Dr. Gerrita Postlewait, already had brought information to the board that administrators for years mismanaged, overspent and shuffled money around. The only pertinent questions remaining unanswered are who did it and who knew.

Former board member Elizabeth Moffly, who served on the board from 2010-2014, said Monday she continuously battled staff and board members in her efforts to push for more fiscal responsibility and transparency. Moffly said she repeatedly asked for external financial audits and questioned the administration’s budget balancing that neither added up to quality education for all students or financial accountability to taxpayers.

Most board members are reluctant to pointedly say who they think made questionable budget decisions, who approved them, and who knew about them. But they agree former superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley and Former Chief Financial Officer Michael Bobby should have been on top of those issues as district administrators and school board chairs Chris Fraser and Cindy Coats should have been aware as board leaders.

As five seats on the county school board come up for election in November - Rev. Chris Collins, Todd Garrett and Michael Miller are seeking re-election - board members are hesitant for both legal and practical reasons to point fingers at staff. Collins said board members and the public have been blindsided. Somebody knew about and was responsible for the financial mess that has the district making drastic cuts. He’s sure they included top level administrators, he said.

And although Garrett says the district should take steps to uncover if criminal malfeasance contributed to wholesale abuse of the budget, Miller said school board members who may have been asleep at the wheel were used, but he can’t say there was deceit or an intention to deceive. Ultimately, there is the harsh reality that things are bad. We just don’t know how bad, he said.

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