CHIPLEY - A performance audit shows Washington County School District is in a good position to make use of monies garnered from the half-cent sales tax, which the school district will ask voters to approve on the August ballot.
The Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released its June 25 performance audit of the school district. The satisfactory audit reviewed improvements and construction of school capital outlay projects.
"I'm extremely proud of the report," said Superintendent Joseph Taylor. "It's a very positive reflection on the school district's policies and responsibility we take as far as funding."
The school district is the first district in the state to undergo the review, which was required by the state. The review assessed the district's current accountability over its resources. It covered: economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; structure or design; methods of providing services and products; goals, objectives and performance measures; adequacy of public documents and reports; and compliance of the program with policies, rules and laws.
"I think it sets forth your need for the half-cent sales tax - it's documented in here, repeatedly," said School Board attorney Matt Fuqua.
The school district has submitted a proposed ordinance to the Washington County Board of Commissioners to call for a referendum election to levy the half-cent tax. A public hearing will be held at the July 10 WCBOCC meeting.
The School Board is enthused and hopeful that the report will further persuade voters to approve the tax.
"This is a fair tax; everybody pays this tax," said School Board chairman Susan Roberts.
"I think it's important that we don't just act like we haven't done anything to this point," said School Board member Terry Ellis. "We've spent the money wisely while we've had a significant reduction in student count ... and so, as a result of that reduction, our funding has continued to drop."
WCBOCC stays neutral in the matter, but handles the public hearings and getting it on the ballot.
"We leave it up to the tax payers of Washington County to vote and to decide, if the way the School Board is going to use the money, is worth it (paying the half-cent sales tax) to them," said WCBOCC chairman Tray Hawkins.
The money would be used to fund capital projects and sooth educational technology needs over the course of 10 years, beginning in January.
"Nobody likes taxes; but, at least with this one, we do have outside review of what we do that says 'you are responsible' 'you do understand your needs,'" Taylor said.
At an upcoming board meeting, Taylor said the School Board will discuss possibly lowering its millage rate.