School Board Reviews Federal Grant Audit

NEWARK– Officials reviewed an audit of the school system’s more than $13 million in federal grant funds this month.

The Worcester County Board of Education last week approved a federal programs audit for fiscal year 2022. The audit reviewed the school system’s spending of 87 federal grant awards.

“It was a clean audit,” Chief Financial Officer Vincent Tolbert said. “When you have that much money flowing through the school system and those many different grant awards, to have that clean opinion speaks very highly of our staff.”

Tolbert presented the board with the fiscal year 2022 federal programs audit at last week’s regular meeting. The audit, performed by UHY in Salisbury, revealed no issues or concerns. Tolbert said the document showed that the school system’s internal controls were good and that it was in compliance with its federal grant awards. He said there were 87 different grant awards totaling $13,991,128. Major grants include Title I funding, which is more than $1 million, as well as special education funding exceeding $1 million. The school system also received $5.4 million in federal grants related to COVID-19 and $3.8 million in federal funds related to school lunch.

Tolbert credited school system staff with ensuring the grants were kept in order. Todd Ferrante, vice president of the school board, echoed that praise.

“We appreciate all the hard work that goes into doing this,” he said.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the federal program audit. School board member Jon Andes, the school system’s former superintendent, said he wanted the community to understand how closely the school system’s federal funding was monitored.

“The federal dollars are restricted dollars,” Andes said. “That means whatever they’re allocated for we must spend it for. We have no choice, we have absolutely no flexibility, and the federal government only provides about 6% of our total operating budget.”

He said the federal program spending was reviewed during the annual audit and was also looked at by the Maryland State Department of Education. Andes said he just wanted to make sure the public understood the restrictions related to federal funding.

“We can only spend it on certain things,” he said. “We have no flexibility in it and there’s a significant amount of accountability on those federal dollars.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.