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State Board of Education to hear Department of Public Instruction audit Tuesday

Superintendent Mark Johnson (left) and State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (right)

North Carolina’s State Board of Education will hear Tuesday from consultants at Ernst & Young on the results of a controversial audit ordered by the Republican-controlled state legislature last year.

No copy of the report was available at press time Monday afternoon, but it comes amid lingering tension between the public school agency and the General Assembly, which has handed down more than $22 million in cuts since 2009. 

State Superintendent Mark Johnson, a Republican, backed the performance review, which called upon the consultant to seek out unnecessary or “ineffective” programs and services, evaluate jobs within the department that are “duplicative” and lay out measurable goals, roles and responsibilities for the central office administration.

Lawmakers also budgeted in $1 million in DPI cuts next year as a result of the audit, a move that led some to suggest the legislature made up its mind about the agency’s inefficiency before any review was conducted.

Yet state board members have been openly critical of both the legislature and the audit, suggesting that the deep cuts sustained by DPI since 2009 have seriously eroded the state’s ability to perform.

The agency provides support and advice for schools across the state, as well as intervention in some low-performing schools and districts. Board Chairman Bill Cobey has said DPI is most needed in North Carolina’s poorest districts, which don’t have the local resources to provide the kind of professional development and support offered by DPI.

Tuesday’s board meeting will also include a separate review of performance in the state’s school transformation efforts led by researchers at Vanderbilt University. Look for Policy Watch coverage this week.

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