The board voted 5-1, with District 1 member Kelly Marlow opposing, to invite a representative from Mauldin & Jenkins to answer questions the board may have about the audit. Board member Rick Steiner was not present.
The decision will cost the district just under $1,280, which includes the four hours of work in relation to the request.
Candler Howell, assistant superintendent of financial management, said audit firms typically build into their contract any time needed to discuss and review the audit with school board members and staff.
However, since Mauldin & Jenkins said they felt like they've exhausted their time answering questions from individual board members, thus exceeding the cost of the initial contract to peform the audit.
Board members were asked to have their questions prepared and transmitted to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo by Nov. 20, who will then forward those questions to the auditor to prepare for the visit.
The auditor is set to appear before the board during its Jan. 16, 2014, meeting, which is the earliest date he could reserve. The board approve that measure with a 5-1 vote, with Robert Wofford opposing.
Questions surrounding the fiscal year 2011 audit — which received an unqualified (or clean) opinion by Mauldin & Jenkins – originated from Marlow, who told officials and the public she had seven pages of questions she compiled with advisors from the community.
Marlow has not not shared those questions with other board members or district staff members.
However, District 3 member Michael Geist brought forth the agenda item the board voted on.
Geist said his request was not to imply he was critical of the Cherokee County School District, but to get a better understanding of the statements made by Mauldin & Jenkins in its report on the 2011 audit.
"I want to point out that I have the utmost respect for the people who work for the school district," he said. "That said, I do think it's part of our responsibility as school board members to understand the finances of the district (and) to understand the findings of the audit."
However, to Petruzielo, misleading comments surrounding the audit need to be clarified. The superintendent said statements have been made, in some cases by board members, that reference the transferring money from one fund to another as been "mismanagement or misappropriation."
"I think you'll see that is rhetoric," he said. "That is not reality."
He added that whenever there are any type of weaknesses or findings that are not resolved immediately, "it is the expectation of the state to say to the district" to ensure whatever adjustments needed are addressed going forward.
"That does not suggest that there is something is rotten in Denmark," he added.
Board Chair Janet Read, who noted the board had been discussing this particular audit since May, proposed a compromise to cap the cost at $1,280.
That, she said, will ensure the board will use the time effectively to get their questions answered.
"This is our chance to take care of this, answer questions (and) hear from the auditor himself," she said. "We need to put this to bed, once and for all."