LORAIN — The president of the school board is seeking records related to a financial audit completed for the district’s CEO.
Board president Tony Dimacchia said he requested documents Monday because the board is essentially no longer involved in operations of the district, and he’d like to be informed of what’s being decided.
“It’s become apparent that the CEO has no problem using outside firms to complete work that can be done within the district,” he said. “I mean, a firm was paid $50,000 for this financial audit, and I found out about it by reading the newspaper.”
The firm that completed the analysis, Mehta Advisory Partners, or MAP, was selected by CEO David Hardy in October to conduct a thorough analysis of the district’s finances and spending the last three years.
Dimacchia said he had concerns about the firm when he couldn’t find basic location and contact information about it online.
“I don’t feel like there’s any accountability here,” he said. “When it comes to financial items, we need to try and be accountable, but if we’re not at the table, we can’t even try.”
In the public records request Dimacchia filed he asked for:
- a copy of the contract with MAP;
- the address and contact information for MAP;
- copy of the $50,000 payment made, who it was made to and the physical location where the check was sent to;
- all notes, draft reports, emails, calendar of interviews and any and all documents used to produce the final report that was made to the public;
- any and all work product created in the furtherance of the MAP contract and all email communications between the MAP contact and Hardy, Treasurer Josh Hill, the district’s Academic Distress Commission and any other school employee that had correspondences with the MAP firm.
- any and all financial expenses with any firm, company or organization brought in since the CEO has been in control.
MAP was among three firms considered for the job, including PDK Education Partners at a cost of $41,400, and Parthenon — an Ernest and Young Co. — with a price tag of $175,000.
At the time, Hardy said the financial audit was a piece of his state-mandated 90-day engagement period with members of the community to better understand the school district.
According to its October proposal for the work, Sam Mehta founded the New York City-based firm in 2016 as “a boutique advisory firm that specializes in helping organizations, across all phases of maturity, navigate challenges and seize opportunities to maximize value and realize their potential.”
According to the executive summary of the MAP audit, the company looked at the district’s history of spending on vendors and the allocation of its financial resources on non-personnel spending, including salaries and other benefits.
The Ohio Auditor’s office also offers performance audits to local government agencies and school districts in the state, and spokesman Dominic Binkley said the cost of their work depends on several factors, including the scope of the audit, the quality of operations and the quality of data.
Binkley said an average audit looks at five common areas — financial systems, human resources, facilities, transportation and food services — and for a district of Lorain’s size it would typically cost $75,000 to $80,000.
Hardy said Tuesday he had no comment on Dimacchia’s public records request.
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