Brooke board hears from auditor

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Board of Education invited state Auditor John McCuskey to Monday’s meeting to discuss the use of the wvcheckbook at a local level.

McCuskey said Brooke’s is one of two school boards looking into adopting the system because of the transparency it offers.

Board President Ted Pauls noted he would like Brooke County to be first in something.

“It’s pro-active,” said Pauls. “For transparency alone, I would have to be convinced this is not a good idea.”

Wvcheckbook cannot be set up before the upcoming levy election, set for Feb. 23.

However, McCuskey said the board’s interest shows members plan to spend money generated through the levy appropriately.

The website will enable Brooke County residents to see what is being spent by the board, since it is real-time accounting of all of the board’s revenue and spending, showing where money has been received and, particularly, what money is being spent and where. It also will give board members the ability to provide answers to community members.

The board will discuss and possibly take action on adopting wvcheckbook at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 25.

Other matters discussed were whether or not the board was in violation of the Open Governmental Meetings Act when members approved raises totaling $143,700 for nearly a dozen Brooke County school board staff members at a time when the board cited financial difficulties as the reason for closing three primary schools and cutting more than 40 teachers and service personnel.

According to a preliminary report by the board’s attorney, Kimberly Croyle of the law firm of Bowles Rice, the board does not appear to be in violation of the act, meeting all the criteria based on past minutes.

In other news, the board plans to continue discussing raising the tutor wages for teachers who tutor students during their planning periods or after school.

As of now, the board is debating whether to set the payment to 1/8 of the average teacher’s salary, or have a set amount based on local counties.