CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A state legislative committee expects the state Board of Education to respond to an education efficiency audit by November.
"We need to address this," said Sen. Gregory Tucker, D-Nicholas. "It's an important time for education in the state.
Tucker spoke Tuesday evening after a meeting of a legislative committee tasked with discussing the audit and "fiscal issues." He said the committee would dedicate its entire November meeting to the board's response. The committee is one of many that meet on a monthly basis when the state Legislature is out of session.
In January, Public Works LLC released an audit of the state school system. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration commissioned the audit for $750,000. It included more than 50 recommendations to help save the state $115 million during the next five years while increasing efficiency statewide.
Board President Wade Linger did not attend the Tuesday meeting. He said he appreciates the committee asking to hear from the board, but can't say the "formal document will be completely caught up and tied in a bow.
"We are working hard to get the thing finished. We want it finished as soon as it can be finished, but it's more important for it to be right than to meet some deadline," Linger said.
By late November he said the board would be able to attend a meeting and give a thorough briefing.
"If they want I'd be happy to do it myself," Linger said.
The state Board of Education met in March at Stonewall Resort to discuss the audit. Although the board initially asked the education department to compile its findings into an official response, Linger said the document he received was not impartial.
Since then he has requested and received a "state board liaison" to, among other things, help create the board's official response. At the board's September meeting Donna Peduto, the liaison, and Linger showed the board a document that had the "form and feel" of a document that would eventually contain the response.
Board members said they liked the format. Many, including Lloyd Jackson, said the response is an opportunity for the board to express its views on education in the state and should therefore take as much time as needed to complete.
Committee Chairman David Perry, D-Fayette, thought the November deadline should be enough.
"It would be the (committee's intention) to not let this audit lay on the shelf," Perry said.
Tuesday marked the committee's fourth meeting. The bulk of the meeting was devoted to David Mohr, a legislative staff member, delivering Public Works' summary of the audit.
Delegate Brady Paxton, D-Putnam, fell asleep during the meeting, his snores audible during Mohr's presentation.
In May, Tomblin announced there would be a series of eight community forums around the state dedicated to discussing the audit. Nonprofit Vision Shared led the forums, which wrapped up in late July, and is working on producing a report. CEO Rebecca Randolph recently told the Daily Mail the company is on schedule with its report, and she plans to present a draft copy to her board in September.
In June the legislative committee announced it would delay its own response to the audit until the state school board and Vision Shared responded. Tuesday Tucker said the committee's October meeting would be devoted to hearing from Vision Shared.