This blog originally founded by Blogger who holds a theological degree and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Taught Psychology for 32 years and is now Professor Emeritus. Is a board-certified psychologist and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in his profession. Ministered as a chaplain, and pastored Baptist and Episcopal churches. Publications cover the integration of psychology and theology. Served in the Army, the Merchant Marines and the Peace Corps.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Watauga County Board Of Education

Inquiring Mind has offered some comments on the "School Superintendent resignation" page which are relative to the school board, it's meetings, finances and general information. I thought they deserved a thread of their own...

I recall when John Welch was running for the school board and promised to start posting the board minutes on the BOE website.

....I can't find them? Does anyone know where they are posted?

The first comment below is one which she had posted on the "Supt" thread...I am reposting it here as a starting point for discussion....

80 comments:

Inquiring Mind said...

I have been caught up getting to the bottom of the worthless wasted expense on software and financial officers and the bound packages of
of paper that they call a financial statement that was audited by what we believed to be competent auditors right here in Watauga County. At this point they are nothing more than worthless costly reports that need to be commended to the waste basket. And, the money spent on preparation and audit has been wasted. We have a bunch of bureaucrats that are so crying and whining about a financial situation that they have no knowledge of. The schools are sending memos out to parents begging for supplies such as paper towels, Kleenex, etc. Teachers are spending their money on supplies. And, the board of education is crying and whining that they don't have any money. They refuse to keep proper records. They ignore citizen warnings of a lack of financial controls and monitoring. And, they refuse to keep public record files in their office. They rely on the advice of their attorney who tells them it is too expensive. And, lack of communication is a big issue. It is the lack of documentation and communication within the BOE administration office that has resulted in worthless financial statements. A bigger problem is the lack of concern or recognition of the severity of the issue and the circumstances that caused it. But, when it came to a letter to the editor informing the citizenry of the issues, they jumped right on it and asked the board attorney to read the letter for which he billed them. They were more concerned with damage control than fixing the problems. That letter came from a citizen in Bethel. How far would that money spent on attorney fees would have gone toward paper towels. Board of Education Members, we are not drinking your Kool-aid. Until you can get your house in order, stop your whining!

inquiring mind said...

The BOE does not post agenda, minutes or agenda packets on line. The County does all three.

The BOE does not post financial statements or budgets on line, the County does.

The BOE does not post meeting notices other than the regular meeting on line. They are required to post all meeting changes and non-regular meeting notices on line if they are posting the regular meeting notices on line. They DO NOT. The County does. The BOE does send me email notices of meetings because I sent them a request in accordance with the law to do so. It took them missing one notice for them and a warning; they are now in compliance. Anyone can request the County and BOE to notify them by email of all meeting notices.

John Welch has been a big disappointment. And, Delora Hodges has been a bigger disappointment. The rest of them were a disappointment for years. They teach each other how to be tyrants.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is a BOE meeting at 7PM on Monday Sep 12. At least it was on the calendar ....I don't know what's on the agenda.

Anonymous said...

OFF TOPIC

We need a new vent page so I can legitimately talk about Watauga Watch's hypocrisy in posting threads on homophobia and censoring anything that talks about how they do the same thing with accusations about McHenry.

Inquiring Mind said...

The Board of Education meets the second Monday in every month at 7:00 pm at the Board of Education Administration Building on Hwy 194N - Pioneer Drive (Agenda and Agenda Packets are not posted on line.)

The County Commissioners meet the first Monday in every month in the AM and the third Tuesday in the PM (starts at 5 PM - this was a disappointing change made by the current board; it was 7 PM) The Commissioners meet in the building across of the Mellow Mushroom - Downtown - King Street. (Agenda and Agenda Packets are posted on County website.) County also posts all non-regular meeting and meeting dates.

The County Commissioners are having their joint meeting with the Town at 5:00 in the Commissioners Board Room on the 12th also regarding the ETJ.

John Welch said...

Good afternoon. I was referred to this page from someone who mentioned there was a topic on the BOE. I decided to post address NewGuy's question on one of my campaign promises. I am happy to let you know that I have the new BOE fusion page up and running on the District page. I will try to keep this site updated regularly with information and news that impact Watauga County Schools. For example, meeting agendas/minutes, budget information, and information on the Superintendent search will be included. I apologize that this has not been started earlier, but my hope is that it will create a new communication tool for the BOE and the people of Watauga County. Here is the link: http://wcs-board-of-education.wataugasd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/integrated_home.phtml?gid=2807878&sessionid=d9550d3d789239b68375e367d24cc305&t=843f2aef33a98b6acaf86bc1ee691bdd
I appreciate all feedback and questions. You can contact me at welchj@watauga.k12.nc.us. Inquiring Mind, I'm sorry that you feel my service on the Board has been "disappointing." I am proud of my service and I will continue to work hard for Watauga County Schools and Watauga County. I understand that there is still room for improvement, and I am committed to ensuring that we responsibly utilize our resources while maintaining transperency. Please let me know your questions, concerns, and recommendations. I may not post often on blogs, but I read every email. Thank you!

John Welch

Anonymous said...

Now, one question that remains to be answered is:

How much more money does the BOE and other local bureaucracies want from the county taxpayers?

That's the only solution bureaucrats present to solve their fiscal problems, real or imagined.

guy faulkes said...

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Welch. My question is why do you have to take the initiative to report the activities of the BOE personally? As a public Board, it would seem this would be a necessary function of the Board.

Nothing personal, but I feel that a blog by an individual will be skewed to that individual's way of thinking and not reflect the official position of the Board. I know this would be the case if I were making the threads as this is human nature.

inquiring mind said...

"To Be Available or Not To Be Available"

"To Exist or Not To Exist"

"To Understand or Not To Understand"

This seems to the question facing the Board of Education when complying with a request for the Schedule of Assets for 6/30/2007 through 6/30/2010. They have gone from understanding and available to not understanding to not available back to understanding and not available to it requires printing 700 pages to access the required 3 pages that make up the Schedule of Assets. Stay tuned. Maybe within a few days they will be back to not understanding. DYSFUNCTION AT ITS BEST!

Now, the County not only understood but gave me an option of a Schedule of Assets or a Schedule of Capital Assets. The request with the County was made on 9/8/2011 and the information was ready for pick up 9/12/2011 (within 2 business days) Good job guys. I am so glad that the County finance officer knew what I was requesting, I though for a moment that I was losing it big time.

inquiring mind said...

Just in. The NC State Treasurer's Office has verified that the BOE did not book the transfer of the Old WHS property from the BOE to the County on the financial statements. However, it will take them several weeks to complete their review because they are covered up with inquiries from other citizens regarding the over 1200 local government agencies which they monitor. What a mess? Maybe within several weeks the BOE will decide whether they understand and/or whether a schedule of assets exist. Surely they could create one by then.

NewGuy said...

Thank you Mr Welch for your contribution to this thread....and also for your willingness to serve our community.

We all hope that you will convince the entire BOE that governing "in the sunshine" is the best approach for all concerned. While we appreciate your new web page, I am still unable to find anything relating to the agenda for the BOE meeting which begins in appx 7 hours. Nor can I find minutes from previous meetings, nor is budget information easily available.

The BOE has had a website for as long as I have been involved with this blog.....the question isn't whether or not a web site exists...it's entirely a matter of how readily the information about the functioning and finances of our school system is available.

We hope you will continue your efforts to publicize the information and also hope you will continue to contribute to this blog.

inquiring mind said...

The Local Government Commission says that financial statements are a measure of STEWARDSHIP. The BOE gets and F. So, lets start with "internal controls". We have an email where we asked to review those and the reply was that you didn't have any.

"The LGC states: Role of Internal Control. It would be hard to place confidence in an approval process that amounted to little more than affixing initials to documents without first examining them. So too, it would hardly be meaningful for management to assume responsibility for the data presented in financial statements if management did not have some reasonable basis for doing so. That reasonable basis can be provided only by a comprehensive framework of internal control."

TO EXIST OR NOT TO EXIST. TO BE AVAILABLE TO BE AVAILABLE. TO UNDERSTAND OR NOT TO UNDERSTAND.

What will it be Board of Education? Do you know was "internal controls" are? Do you have any? Are they available?

inquiring mind said...

What does the LGC say that your role is, Board Members?

"Role of the Governing Body. While management is primarily responsible for financial reporting (including the comprehensive framework of internal control used to generate the financial statements), the governing body remains ultimately responsible for ensuring that management meets its responsibilities in this regard. Typically, an audit committee, comprising members of the governing body, provides the necessary oversight."

Imagine that. You are responsible for the "framework of those controls", "to insure management does its job" and "an audit committee" is typical. There is nothing typical about the Watauga BOE is there?

How about Board? Are you up to the job or are you going to stick your head in the sand and spend more time figuring out how to keep the public from presenting the issues and solutions to you?

GRADE F Lets change that Lady Bird Johnson statement that Dr. Hemric quotes on his emails to this one by Inquiring Mind: "Tyrants will always live up to what you expect of them."

Anonymous said...

Inquiring Mind...Why are you so hell bent on stirring up trouble? Is your life so unfulfilling and unpleasant that you feel the need to create trouble for others? Life is unfair. Government is imperfect. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, there were plenty of people who made similar remarks like yours to the Founders in their struggle against British tyranny and corruption.

The brutal truth is, Anonymous, the County and the BOE have grossly mismanaged their duties and spent huge sums of money for their pals, powerful special interests, and to enhance their own bureaucracies at the taxpayers' huge and growing expense.

If you had proofs of malfesance and corruption from government officials, would you not want this exposed? The real troublemakers are these corrupt politicians and their pals taking advantage of the naive and ignorant taxpayers, who are hit consistently with lies, half-truths, and more taxes.

Anonymous, do you blindly trust these people? I certainly don't.

inquiring mind said...

We are not "hell bent on stirring up trouble". You are one of those people who one to blame the messenger. I don't go out there looking for it. I am making normal public request for information and it's just there. You would rather have us ignore it. That is the problem and has been the problem. And, we are not talking about "room for improvement";we are not talking insignificant; we are not talking immaterial. We are talking a need for an overhaul; we are talking material; we are talking detrimental to stewardship of the funds we give them and thus the money to the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Inquiring Mind (D.G.), you are not helping anyone with your tampering and nosy investigations. How do you think you come across to others? Are they going to praise you for your endless requests, or want to slap you like a bug? The county, school system, state dept., and probably countless others are tired of hearing your name, I'm quite positive of that. What is your goal in all of this? You do realize that you are costing citizens even more money by causing state paid employees to have to deal with your constant prying. Not one state employee that you harass makes enough pay in their job to have to put up with your BS and imagined corruption. You're fixated on causing trouble - fight for something worthwhile that matters more in this world, like child slavery or global warming. That would bring about positive change and get your name out there as someone who makes a difference instead of one who is a troublemaker.

inquiring mind said...

We can say something positive hear. When we went to the County to get a Schedule of Assets, the finance officer was upfront and told us that she had added the old WHS to the County books on 6/30/2010 and that it should have been added on 6/30/2008. She said she didn't know why it wasn't added before and said she wasn't the finance officer at the time. She said that she caught the error when adding Mabel School. That's good. Our County finance officer has some sort of mechanism to check against. She said that she noticed it because her values for insurance didn't match her building assets.

Knowing that the CPAs didn't catch it in the audit is not very comforting; but, we have to give credit due where due - Ms. Pierce has some cross checks in place.

Anonymous said...

Oh yea! That should make us all feel very warm and fuzzy. They misplace a 30 million dollar asset for two years and nobody notices?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, we continue to receive more Orwellian newspeak from you.

The public employees you speak of are receiving salaries from taxpayers, and many are paid very well. These requests for information and public documents are during normal business hours, and it is one of the public employees' duties to fulfill these requests.

Whether you or anyone else likes it or not, these questionable officials are getting away with malfesance, helping their pals, and gross mismanagement of taxpayers' money.

Why aren't you helping us? One of the best way to really fight corruption and tyranny is on the local level.

guy faulkes said...

While I.M. maybe verbose, he or she certainly backs up his or her statements with facts. The requests for public information are certainly legitimate.

The Public Records Laws exist for the very reason I.M uses them.

I find I.M.'s posts very informative. If you do not, then may I suggest you just do not read them and remain in your state of uninformed bliss.

Anonymous said...

I will continue to read these posts in order to maintain awareness of your conservative band's conspiracy theories. Everything will work out on the financial records in the end - mistakes are made or overlooked, but eventually detected. People are only human. You really have no other purpose except to stir up unnecessary conflict.

guy faulkes said...

I really do not understand how you can consider I.M.'s posts to be conspiracy theories when they are always backed up by facts in the public record. It is only logical to question the reasons for discrepancies, particularly when these discrepancies are many and when the agencies involved are upset when questions are asked about them.

No one need fear an honest mistake, or to put it another way, the guilty flee when no man pursues. Your fear of disclosure on these maters as evidenced by saying they are needless and stir up unnecessary conflict makes one wonder. Trying to find out what your government is doing is never needless or unnecessary. It is called being an informed citizen, not a subject, serf, or slave.

inquiring mind said...

Continuing saga. A request was made for "true and certified" copies of certain pieces of information from the BOE. The BOE has responded that they are not required to do so and they are not going to. However, we have seen copies of "true and certified" copies made for others. And, the County does it routinely. They simply stamp the with a stamp that states "true and certified" and the secretary signs it. Dr. Hemric is the secretary of the BOE. Anita Fogle is the clerk for the board of Commissioners and she routinely does this. This simply verifies that the copy was taken from the County or BOE files so that the party who has the copy is not challenged on the validity of the copy (ie forged the document or something like that).

It is quite suspect that the BOE has a problem of certifying the copy is coming from their files and is a true copy.

Reader said...

Wow, think IM has dug a little too deep for some people. Good job IM. I don't mind one little bit how hard the employees at the courthouse have to work, that's what they are paid to do.

inquiring mind said...

The anonymous that has a problem with IM. When we first came across this mistake, we brought it to the attention of the finance officer. It was the cavalier attitude of the finance officer that raised a red flag. Then there was something very wrong with the excuse and attributing the excuse to something the CPA said. We didn't talk directly to the CPA; however, if the CPA did indeed say what the finance director said, then the competence of the CPA needs to be examined. The impression we got was that the finance officer may be in over her head. Regardless, the errors (not error) points to much bigger problems at the root:

1) Lack of internal controls.
2) Reliance on software without good foundation of knowledge.
3) Lack of communication.
4) Lack of documentation.
5) Lack of attention to detail.
6) Lack of and supervision.
7) Lack of internal audit practice.
8) Lack of checks and balances.
9) Too much discretionary power.
10) Lack of concern.

Despite providing many opportunities to be forthcoming, the BOE has chosen to take an opposing route. The superintendent claimed to me that they were doing everything possible to respond to my public request. However, that turned South when they decided that they would not certify the information as true copies. That indicates a big problem.

The BOE is definitely in defense mode.

Will this lead to uncovering inventory problems? We believe so. Lack of internal controls indicates a disregard for accountability and definitely poor stewardship. When we brought the $2,500 reimbursement to the attorney for the appraisal without board authority to perform the service and without supporting documentation, the LGC agreed that this sampling suggests an bigger underlying problem. Auditors don't audit every transaction; they sample. Failure of a random sample leads to the controls. And, it is the controls that become the focus; not the transaction. We are looking at the bigger picture. And, when considered in light of all of the other issues encountered; the BOE is in a major state of disarray. And, if ignored, it will deteriorate. Dysfunctional is the description that comes to my mind.

Anonymous said...

I think the disarray and dysfunction is all in inquiring mind (D.G)'s mind and intentions. By taking a benign issue and trumping it up with her rhetoric and buzz words proves you are an instigator instead of the "watchdog" you believe yourself to be. I pity your next targets when Jim Deal and the Super are gone. I have an idea, worry about the shadiness that the Gen Assembly showed in the DOMA process this week. Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other Anonymous posters here that IM and New Guy are just obsessed with making issues - in fact, this whole blog is aimed at that one goal. It is probably best not to argue with teabaggers, as it just causes them to think that they have hit a nerve. In actuality, it's just us citizens with common sense gently trying to tell them to shut up.

guy faulkes said...

Both of the last Antonymous(es) seem to feel that public inquiry should not be allowed. I wonder if this point of view is because this legitimate inquiry and the discussion of same is only detrimental to their point of view or if they have something to hide personally.

Is it not interesting that so many supporters of government agencies want these agencies to be able to operate in the dark? If there is nothing to hide, why try to hide it?

Neither Anonymous has an explanation for any of the issues I.M. has disclosed and about which he / she has then given an opinion. If they have a different opinion about why these things happened, then they should present it instead of attacking those that do present an opinion.

I beleive this is what is called Honest Debate. (pun intended) rather than a personal attack for some unknown reason.

inquiring mind said...

You can't debate facts; however, they could debate the causes and effect. They would however prefer to debate transparency. Transparency is necessary in a republic form of government. We might ask the anonymous if they had a business and they had to provide the bank with an audited financial statement; and, they paid a financial officer $85,000 per year to keep the books and prepare the financial statement, paid a CPA $15,000 to audit the financial financial statement and discovered after 3 years of making these payments that the audited financial statements were grossly incorrect, what would you do?

Anonymous said...

Grossly incorrect? What is the issue with what seems to be a clerical error? Do they have debt leveraged with the items on the list? If not then it sounds like you are making a mountain out of a mole hill, AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

Millions of dollars worth of property is a pretty big clerical error to make several years in a row.

How much money does it take to make a mountain? How much is a mole hill?

How come you are dodging the transparency issue?

Anonymous said...

How are they not transperent? IM has the documents right? Are the millions of dollars on the list used as leverage for debt? If it is an error and there is no real financial issue to the taxpayers then it is a mole hill. If they were using it towards loans then there is an issue.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a problem with anyone inquiring into the matter so it sure looks like you are against transparency. If not, why are you whining?

How much money is a mountain and how much is a mole hill and how long should the mistake have gone on without the people paid to find it doing it?

Anonymous said...

I just went to the new BOE webpage and the minutes from the July and August meetings are posted as well as the new common core standards. After speaking with Mr. Welch he said that as he is given more information (minutes from previous years, budgets, etc...) he will be posting those as well. He assured me that no personal opinions will be posted. He said this is just a way to help with transparency. He is very open to suggestions as to what people would like to see on the page. He is very interested in the opinions of others and I would encourage anyone on this blog to contact him directly with questions or concerns.

inquiring mind said...

Are you saying that the finance officer is a clerical position?

Anyway, you are not paying attention, it is not the error; it is the cause of the error. If the cause is not corrected the error will be repeated over and over again. And, it has already been repeated on 3 different properties in 3 different years.

Financial statements are a gauge of stewardship. Audits lend integrity to the gauge. In discussing this issue with the NC CPA Board who investigates competency complaints against CPAs has suggested that while the CPA should have read the minutes and questioned the transfer, the bigger problem is with the failure of the internal controls and the finance officer. They pointed out that the auditors confirm that the Schedule of Assets reconcile to the Statement of Assets. They said that if the asset is on the Schedule of Assets and the two reconcile, the auditors would not have a question. We also confirmed that the auditors do ask prior to starting the audit for disclosure of certain transactions and this would be one that should have been disclosed. And, we agree, while there is some question as to how the CPA failed to catch 3 of the same type of transactions in 3 different years; the real problem is remains with the cause. It is with the internal controls or lack there of. And, it is definitely, without a doubt, directly related to lack of communication. And, there is no doubt that this issue extends beyond property and land; we will most assuredly find grossly negligent problems with inventory. And, many of you know what that means.

Again, while we appreciate John Welch's personal attempts to make things transparent; this is not the "new BOE" website. Maybe John could get a link put on the BOE website to his new website. Citizens are going to go to the BOE website. If you search Watauga County Schools, you don't come up with John Welch's new website.

For that matter, we could set up a website and put every document we get from the County and BOE on our website.

Thank you John and you deserve an "at a boy". However, have you brought the idea of making this information part of the BOE website to the Board?

We will have to say that John Welch is showing us that he is committed to transparency even if he has to do it himself.

We hope that you will address the internal controls or lack of such. You need to see if you can talk the board into having the CPA get to the cause of this and offer recommendations to correct the situation. We actually have a hard time swallowing the responses the finance officer attributed to the CPA. We cannot conceive a CPA saying that they don't know what a Schedule of Assets is. And, with it now turning up, we are very concerned that this was ever said in the first place. And, the BOE should be also. And, the public deserves a full report of what happened and what measures have been taken to remedy the situation (the cause).

This has been going on for years. This superintendent; prior superintendents; this finance officer; prior finance officers - and the same ole gang of board members with a tyrannical mentality. Face it; the ultimate responsibility lies with you BOE. How you handle it is judge of your ability to serve in your position? Not a good time for to stick your head in the sand; an election year is just around the corner. John Welch has the most to lose; he got a 2 year term. You might want to emulate him.

inquiring mind said...

Frankly I am not concerned whether government officials or employees are tired of me. Of course they don't want anyone upsetting the apple cart. Nosy? Nosy relates to things that aren't a person's business. And, as a citizen, government affairs are my business. In a republic it is absolutely my business and responsibility to be "nosy".

You can rest assured, whether they like it or not or whether want to smack the hell out of me or cuss me when I walk away; it makes a difference. There have been a lot of changes over the past years. And, not all of the credit lies with me. There are several others on the local level and many many more at the State and Federal level. As a matter of fact, before we came on the scene, we see in the archives, that there were those who preceded us. Why those of us, who never had a propensity for this sort of thing in the past, took the baton, must be based on that deep-rooted fiber that our Founding Fathers said was necessary to maintain our Republic.

Things have gotten into a pretty bad mess. And, if we can't fix it at the local level; we can't fix it at the State or Federal level. It starts at here. We have to get to the first step; government has to recognize it has a problem first. So it ain't likely that we are about to stop. And, if for some reason we did, there will be others to pick up the baton.

inquiring mind said...

John Welch, How do you get to your "fusion" page from the Watauga County Schools website? Please finish the instructions below

Step 1. Go to htt://www.watauga.k12.nc.us

Step 2

Step 3 etc.

inquiring mind said...

John Welch, please add the following that he County has:

Audited Financial Statements
Budgets
Agenda Packets - prior to meetings
Agendas - prior to meetings
All meeting notices (not just regular meetings)
Please add archived minutes for prior years (County goes back to 1997; you should at least be able to go back as far as the files you have on computer.)
You need to also have a way to sign up for public comment on line for a particular meeting. You should also have a request form for being put on the agenda. We recommend that this go with the public meeting rules. It would really be great if board meetings could be recorded/taped. If the Commissioners aren't using their board room on Monday's maybe the school board could use it and start to have their meetings taped.

Not Him said...

http://wcs-board-of-education.wataugasd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/integrated_home.phtml?gid=2807878&sessionid=d9550d3d789239b68375e367d24cc305&t=843f2aef33a98b6acaf86bc1ee691bdd


Im not John Welch but he did post the above link in his earlier post. Just copy and paste it

inquiring mind said...

John Welch. Start talking to citizens at meetings. Come and observe the County Commissioners. You guys act like a bunch of tyrants instead of public servants. Remember. You are there only at the will of the people. BOE rules need to reflect a spirit of transparency. The BOE and its administrative staff need to reflect a spirit of transparency. The staff is a reflection of the board.

NewGuy said...

inquiring mind said...

" John Welch. Start talking to citizens at meetings. Come and observe the County Commissioners."

To be fair, I often see John Welch at BOC meetings....most recently at the joint town/county meeting on Monday.

inquiring mind said...

Update. Copies of the Financial Statements and Schedule of Assets were released by the BOE. They would not certify them as true copies; however, they did release them. The Schedules, without a doubt, came from the CPA files due to familiar documenting references and the printout was dated 9/10/2008. Shame on the finance officer for saying that the CPA didn't understand what we meant by a schedule of assets.

In fact, we were sharing the BOE's financial fiasco with a CPA earlier this morning and his first reaction was "That's scary; how incompetent!" Definition According to Webster: "Not having the necessary skills to do something successfully." That sums it up from point of view too.

inquiring mind said...

Anonymous. We are providing a link to the Local Government Commission Fiscal Management Division memorandum. This should enforce that the financial reporting of capital assets is important, reason and guidance with regard to compliance with Government
Accounting Standards Board (GASB)34.

http://www.nctreasurer.com/NR/rdonlyres/02440867-6A86-4F43-BA7D-246B86FEE5FF/0/Memo975.pdf

The BOE and County both need to read (including their respective CPAs).

They refer to the reporting of capital assets as a "critical issue". They are concerned with "misleading" statements of financial (fiscal) condition. They stress that the assets is reported by the entity that "holds title". And, there are other special requirements with respect to leases (especially applicable to the new high school).

Logical Mind said...

Last time I looked, the old WHS building was still standing where it always has been. I don't think it is lost at all. If you need anyone to take you over there and show you where it is, I'd be glad to.

Anonymous said...

Logical mind...If you are so stupid that you don't recognize that a $30- million dollar error on a financial report is important, then you are too stupid to be posting here. Try Watauga Watch!

Logical Mind said...

All of this is easily fixed on the reports & you know that. It's just an oversight and is going to be worked out - you know this as well. Quit beating it into the ground! You get on your soapbox and try to act smarter than everyone around you: "Look at me - I caught the BOE and county in a financial error. Everyone praise me!"

It seems that the users who post here do not enjoy being told the obvious - it might ruin their reputation. Blinders on - all they see is hate and corruption.

It seems to me that the BOE is taking steps to help resolve this conflict and it seems to me that all anyone here can do is still complain that it's not enough.

I should realize by now that Republicans always get what they want, because they issue threats and whine until they're satisfied. But, do you really want that stigma attached to you?

Anonymous said...

(ill)Logical Mind, you have confused the parties. You got burnt bad when you were outed that you would cover up a thirty million dollar mistake to make your side look better.

LOGICAL Mind said...

I would not cover it up - just make it right. That's all it takes is fixing the mistake. That's a given & why do you not think that it will be corrected? You keep throwing blame around like people make mistakes on purpose. Have you never made a mistake personally or while doing your job? I would say yes. That's what humans do. There's only black & white with you people.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have discovered without the efforts of Inquiring Mind. You jerks dislike that she brought it out in the open as well as letting us know about the trouble she had in getting public information.

You say you don't want to hide it, but your words are then contradicted by other things you say.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous

I feel we need at least onne more Amonymous on this thread.

Anonymous said...

I am the real anonymous and I resent other people pretending to be me.

Anonymous said...

Funny, guys. Your point about the thread's discussion is?

inquiring mind said...

You first have to admit you have a problem. They went right into cover up mode. And, they have been warned about the cause 2 years ago and have done nothing yet. I think the LGC will take care of it and it will be corrected.

The County provided us with their "white papers", the LGC audit of the audits. We will address those situations at a later time. The County pays in excess of $50,000 annually for audits. We want it right.

The information on how the BOE is handling the capital assets - school buildings and land in the 6/30/2007 through 6/30/2010 BOE financial statements show demonstrate that the
BOE is not operating under the 2002 memorandum of understanding of GASB 34. It is the attitude of the BOE that tells me that a directive from the LGC is what will force them to comply. However, they will continue to make future mistakes due to the reasons enumerated before.

The BOE claims that they don't have "White Papers". So, we have gone to the LGC and made the request. They wouldn't certify the financial statements as true copies and they wouldn't certify the minutes as true copies. And, then they claim that they don't have something that we know that they have. Just like they said that they didn't have a Schedule of Assets, then the did, then they didn't and finally they did.

You guys will go into overload before I even get started good at reporting all of the dysfunction. So, take chill pill and hold on.

inquiring mind said...

Board Minutes - Follow the dysfunction:

2/13/2006 - Deborah Miller seconded by Dr. Warren to accept Dr. Short's recommendation to instruct architects to temporarily stop work to allow Board to explore the possibilities of selling the current WHS site and to locate to a new site. An offer to purchase the current WHS was received February 13. The motion passed unanimously.

2/27/2006 - Board the negotiation/bid process regarding the potential sale of Watauga High School.

3/13/2006 - Board Attorney, Paul Miller, presented an update on the proposed sale of Watauga High School. He has received the second offer to purchase and is working with both parties to meet specific requirements before offers are presented to the Board of Commissioners. Offers will then be published in the newspaper. He explained the upset bid process.

{Now by this time, the board had not asked the Board Attorney to sale the old WHS. And, he had gotten an appraisal of $15 million(signed 3/6/2006) of which he was not asked to do. And, he then submitted a invoice for $2,500 for the appraisal and it was approved by the finance officer without board knowledge.}

More to come.

inquiring mind said...

4/10/2006 - Dr. Short presented an overview of the renovation report for Watauga High School. Construction Control Corporation was hired to provide the estimate. $34,878,000 was the total figure for renovation to WHS.

4/10/2006 - Board Attorney, Paul Miller, made a recommendation to the Board to ask for rezoning of part of the WHS property. Some portions of the site are zoned R3 and some B3. Both offers to purchase are contingent upon rezoning B3. A motion was made by Deborah Miller and seconded by Steve Combs to authorize Andy Reese to request rezoning form R3 (Multi Family) to B3 (General Business). The motion passed unanimously.

5/24/2006 - Board members attended a joint meeting with Watauga County Commissioners ....School Board Attorney Paul Miller presented two contracts for the current WHS site to the BOE and BOC. The contracts presented were from Granite Dev, LLC for $32 million and Miller Properties, Inc. for $30 million. Contingencies of each contract were also discussed. Both Boards agreed to meet June 5th, 8:00AM, for the purpose of accepting or rejecting a contract.

6/5/2006 - School Board Attorney Paul Miller discussed one additional offer for WHS that was received on June 2, 2006 from John Spake Realty, Asheville, NC (working with Developers from Miami, FL). Mr. Miller informed the Board he expected to receive a revised offer form one of the two previous bidders. Mr. Miller recommended a committee be formed to review offers and give reports of offers to both the Commissioners and the Board of Education. Committee members are: Jim Deal, representing County Commissioners; Andy Reese, representing BOE; and Board Attorneys; Superintendent of Schools and County Manager. {not motion or vote and by this point WHS has not yet been declared surplus property nor has the right of first refusal to the County been made}

6/22/2006 - The committee appointed by both Boards recommended the BOE and BOC not accept a contract on the high school property at this time. Both Boards wanted time to pursue current offers with 2 goals in mind (1) get as much money as possible for current site (old WHS) and (2) provide best educational facility possible for students of Watauga County. Both boards agreed by consensus to accept the committee's recommendation.

{The BOE holds title to the old WHS.}

{By the end of 2006, the BOE had paid the Board Attorney over $29,000 in fees- mainly related to the sale of WHS}

7/25/2006 - A motion was made by Steve Combs and seconded by Dr. Warren to request a new high school located on the Perkinsville site and to transfer the deed to the current WHS to Watauga County. The motion passed unanimously. A motion was made by Bill Winkler and seconded by Winston Kinsey to agree to build a new high school on property acquired in Perkinsville and to accept transfer of title of the current high school property. The motion passed unanimously.

{This will be the first
motion to transfer old WHS from the BOE to the County. However, the deed of transfer is not signed until 2/19/2008.

11/3/2006 - Watauga County School Board members instructed Paul Miller to transfer title to WHS to Watauga County.

{This was the first instruction to to Paul Miller, Board Attorney to prepare the deed. He doesn't do it until late 2007 according to invoices.}

{The school has still not been declared surplus. And, bids for old WHS have been turned down for $30-$32 million.}

2007 to come.

inquiring mind said...

Discussions prior to 8/3/2007 were about the new high school construction.

8/3/2007 - A motion was made by Ron Henries and seconded by Dr. Warren to transfer ownership of the current WHS to Watauga County Commissioners for use as collateral for bonds for construction of the new WHS. A lease from the Commissioners for the current WHS was requested until the new facility is completed. The motion passed unanimously.

{This is the 5/0 vote to transfer the old WHS from BOE to County. Still it is not done until 2/19/2008. And, still the old WHS has not been declared surplus.}

{The BOE paid the Board Attorney, Paul Miller, in excess of $20 million and they were still working with bidders on old WHS despite decision to transfer 2 times 5/0 vote. Invoices from Miller show that he worked on Deed and Lease in November of 2007- nothing shown in 2006 invoices despite initial 5/0 motion made in 2006.}

The minutes do not show that the Board ever reviewed the draft documents that are shown in the invoice. The minutes do not show that the Board ever reviewed or approved the final Deed and Lease. However, Lowell Younce, BOE Chair, signed the documents on 2/19/2008 without board vote.}

The invoices for 2008 from Miller amounted to over $20 million.

And, for those of you who think we are nosy and stirring up trouble. After we made a public records request for the Board Attorney's invoices, the invoice amounts dropped drastically. We think the BOE was asleep at the wheel and we woke them up. Miller invoices were approx. $8 million in 2009; approx. $8.5 million in 2010.

Why did the BOE have to make 2 resolutions and votes to transfer the property? Why was the BOE's first resolution not followed.

The old WHS was not used as collateral much less for a bond for construction of the new high school.

And, the Attorney keeps all records in his office. And, the BOE sleeps at the wheel. And, staff is not competent enough for a dysfuncional board and management. However, if the Board's real intentions is to slide under the radar, then incompetent staff would be the answer.

They fought and continue to fight public record request tooth and nail.

inquiring mind said...

CORRECTION ON FEES PAID TO MILLER: REPLACE "MILLION" WITH "THOUSAND"

paid approx $29,000 - 2006
paid approx $20,000 - 2007
paid approx $21,000 - 2008
paid approx $8,000 - 2009
paid approx $8,500 - 2010

Logical Mind said...

What's that? Did you make a mistake by saying millions? Wow, that's a big difference isn't it? I thought you were perfect, but that's a huge mistake in presenting your information. Wow - kind of reduces the impact you wanted doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Logical Mind - The difference is that IM corrected his/her mistake right away.

The County and BOE, with considerable and well-paid staffs, took YEARS to 'correct' their huge error, and with audits and financial reports performed by outside professional auditors who missed the error, also. These auditors were very well compensated too.

inquiring mind said...

Logical Mind. Yes. I made a mistake; but, I have never claimed to be perfect.

Now, if there had been a button that I could have pushed to delete my post, i would have. And, I would have posted a corrected version. So, I did the next best think. I put a very short message with LARGE CAPS. If the BLOGGER wants to delete it, I will be glad to repost that comment with the correct invoice amounts. It begins as follows: "Discussions prior to 8/3/2007 were about the new high school construction."

inquiring mind said...

Logical Mind and the nay saying Anonymouses:

Back to the problem at hand, the way we read LGC Memorandum 975, if old WHS was outright titled to the County on 2/19/2008 and the County gave the BOE Operating Lease on the Old WHS on the same date. So, the County should carry the old WHS as an asset on their books beginning with 6/30/2008 (as of 6/30/2011 we understand it is still an asset of the BOE).

It appears that the County gave a Capital Lease to the BOE on the new high school. This would mean that the BOE carries the asset on their books for the high school and the County carries the debt.

Memorandum 975 points out why the proper reporting is "critical".

It appears to me that with the County responsible for providing schools and with a Capital Lease that provides that the BOE will own the school once the debt is paid, the only way that the County could truly realize it's true financial position is for the asset to be booked by the BOE; otherwise, the County's financial position would be overstated and they could not make the proper decision with regard to debt in the future (future debt for other schools, etc;these are not assets that they are likely to sell to meet obligations).

Here is what Memorandum 975 states:

"After conversations and correspondence with the staff of the GASB, they have stated the fiscal responsibility for providing and maintaining school assets is not the most critical factor in determining how these assets should be reported. Rather, the entity holding legal title to the school buildings should be the controlling factor in how these buildings are reported.
For most school buildings, title is held by the school board. However, there are some school buildings that are titled to the counties under G.S. 153A-158.1. This most often occurs when a county has used installment purchase financing to construct the school building, although nothing in the law prohibits its use for other reasons. In most cases a lease agreement is signed between the school board and counties leasing the building to the school board for the term of the lease. The agreement also provides for either a bargain purchase or actual transfer of the title to the school board at the end of the lease.
The bargain purchase or transfer of the asset at the end of the lease term makes this a capital lease. This results in the asset being recorded in the school board’s financial statements while the debt remains on the county’s statements. Since these leases involve both land and a building, the lease would be classified as an operating lease if it did not contain the bargain purchase or transfer of asset clauses. Leases involving land must meet one of those two criteria to be classified as a capital lease.
We have been asked by units and auditors what would be the appropriate financial reporting treatment for a building owned by the county under G.S. 153-158.1 if, for whatever reason, the bargain purchase or transfer of asset clauses were not in the lease agreement. Based upon the response that we have received from the staff of the GASB, title would be the controlling factor. Without those clauses in the lease, it is an operating lease. Under an operating lease, the county would reflect the school building in its financial statements since it holds title to the building. The building would appear in the Governmental Activities column of the Statement of Net Assets and depreciation of the building would appear on the Statement of Activities."

You can find NC General Statute 153A-158.1 by going to: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_153A/GS_153A-158.1.html

inquiring mind said...

GASP, what will that do to the County bond rating if they carry the debt on the new high school and the BOE carries the asset?

The LGC has issued a memorandum #1058) on that too:

"Members of the Local Government Commission staff have recently discussed with the three major
rating agencies the possible impact of negative net assets on the government-wide statements of
some North Carolina counties prepared in accordance with GASB Statement No. 34. These
negative net asset amounts have resulted from counties reporting debt issued for school
construction and school boards reporting the assets. This results from the requirements of 115C-
521 that require schools systems to construct and own schools assets and that counties provide
funding for school capital needs.
All three rating agencies indicated that as long as school debt is the reason for the negative net
assets and an explanation is disclosed in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis and in the
notes to the financial statements, the agencies would not down grade ratings now and do not
anticipate doing so in the future. Staff members have also contacted three large underwriters of
North Carolina local government debt. Those underwriters indicated that as long as ratings
remained constant the negative net assets on the government-wide statements of counties would
have no impact upon their bids for debt."

inquiring mind said...

Because the cause is not treated, there is a question of whether the Transfer of Deed and Lease surrounding yet another loan for Mabel School was recorded properly.

Was the lease a Capital Lease?

Ok, County? Ok, BOE? one of the other; but not both.

Logical Mind said...

Who knows? Since you know how to fix everything, why don't you go work for the county government and the BOE? That way, all of the transactions, books and reports will be perfect. Then, when you get all of the imagined corruption solved you can make your way to the NC Govt. level. If your hurry, you just might be able to beat out Bachmann or Perry for President and take your place as nutjob of the year!

guy faulkes said...

logical Mind, you are thinking logically. IM would make a fantastic employee or an even better county commissioner.

Logical Mind said...

...except no one could stand to be around her. Her mentality wouldn't work too well in an office environment.

guy faulkes said...

Maybe you could not. Competence in my co-workers has never bothered me.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking that "logical mind"...and, before that, "anonymous" is probably the same person that stalked Inquiring Mind when she used to post on the High Country Press page.

There, as here, she never posted anything that challenged the facts IM was stating...only a series of personal attacks against her - to the point that I think her posts were mostly deleted from there by their admin.

You can usually tell when someone doesn't have the intelligence to argue the points but instead resorts to purely personal attacks.

inquiring mind said...

I own a business. I used to work for a CPA firm. I was a tax manager and had several staff under my supervision. I was a consultant and I was also an account representative. I trained auditors and signed off on audits. I worked in the office environment for 30 years prior to starting my own business. In fact, it was one of my previous employers (a national firm) that approached me to take over the small business part of their business.

I can only think that you are very close to the situation. Don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself; reflect - ask yourself, how did this happen and fix the cause. Be your own internal auditor. You can wallow in self-pity and blame others for your mistakes or you can take responsibility, correct your mistake and figure out how to keep from repeating it. Figure out how you can be the best you can in your position. If there are outside circumstances that you can't control, then you need to let your supervisor know. Be ready with suggestions; not just complaints.

inquiring mind said...

Writing to you from the Hampton Inn in Wilkes.

Hey, Logical Mind - I'm down here with the rest of the nutjobs.

inquiring mind said...

The County's records show that they used a fire insurance value to book the old WHS. The worksheet shows the modular units. However, some of those units were sold when the BOE declared furniture, equipment, etc surplus. Does the County think that they own things that the BOE thinks they own?

Logical MInd said...

Nope, not involved at all. I'm not even a "she". I'm also not anonymous. I'm also not anyone who stalked IM in a past life, so you can lose all of those conspiracy theories you are cooking up. What are you guys smoking? But, I'm done here - it's useless. I don't think anyone is reading this drivel anyway and even if they were, it wouldn't change or affect any outcome. IM is preaching to the choir here so you all keep enjoying your time together.

inquiring mind said...

John Welch is reading. And, we figure other Board members are reading. It is working. We have their attention. John is working on getting public information on the BOE website. He is demonstrating that he is willing to change the lack of transparency. We also know that he is working on the financial issues (not issue). And, we assume that Delora still considers herself new and is so fortunate to have Deborah Miller and Marty Hemric to take care of things. And, we know how Deborah Miller and Dr. Hemric feel about the public - we're simply gnats. And, for the others. Well Combs doesn't have much to campaign on anymore - liquor by the drink is a done deal. And, Warren, he is the only milk toast the Republicans could scratch up.

Blogger said...

Logical Mind “I don't think anyone is reading this drivel anyway “ I assume you don’t mean the blog. Actually we had 3221 visits this past few weeks with 14,457 pages read. And, we do thank you for your help.

inquiring mind said...

This comes from the policy manual of the Local Government Commission:
1) "Benefits of a Fixed Assets Accounting System
Establishing and maintaining complete and accurate records
accounting for fixed assets is important for several reasons.
First, the value of fixed assets for most governmental
jurisdictions is large. Therefore, adequate accounting
procedures and records are essential for effective property
management (including risk management) and control. Second, the
stewardship responsibility involved in safeguarding such a large
public investment is of the utmost importance to sound financial
administration. Third, adequate fixed assets records can assist
in making management decisions. Proper use of these records may
prevent unneeded assets from being purchased. When budgeting
for and preparing routine preventative maintenance and replacement schedules management may use these records to
determine whether maintenance costs are too high for particular
assets. Fixed assets records also could be used to help clarify
long-term capital budgeting needs. Finally, accurate and
complete fixed assets records can prevent the possible
misstatement of a local government's financial statements.
Otherwise, assets such as those acquired under capital leases
and joint ventures could be overlooked."

2)"Accounting for Fixed Assets-
Fixed assets transactions arise primarily from acquisitions and
disposals of fixed assets. These transactions appear first in
the expenditure ledger as purchases, or in the revenue ledger as
revenues from the disposal of fixed assets. After the end of
each month, the transactions for the month should be journalized
and recorded. The minutes of the governing board should be
inspected for any transactions not recorded in the expenditure
accounts, e.g., donated assets, assets received from another
government entity, or assets not recorded in the revenue
accounts. It is important that fixed asset records be
maintained once they have been established."

Furthermore, the LGC states:
"G.S. 159-26(b)(8) requires local governments to maintain "a
ledger or group of accounts in which to record the details
relating to the general fixed assets of the unit or public
authority." The LGC will no longer issue long-term debt
for units having a fixed assets opinion qualification."

The is why it is imperative that the County and BOE get it right! However, maybe this is the answer to slowing them down on any future long-term debt. An opinion qualification with respect to fixed assets could also lead to lowering of bond rating.

inquiring mind said...

Blogger. Way to go. Logical Mind can't handle the truth.

inquiring mind said...

Lets talk about some more sloppy work at the BOE. The Deed to the Raines' for the BOE's "Watauga County Schools CTE House" states that the Board declared the property surplus at their 4/6/2007 meeting. Actually, that was done at their 2/12/2007 meeting. And, just how was this property booked and unbooked?

Anonymous said...

Logical Mind said

"But, I'm done here - it's useless. I don't think anyone is reading this drivel anyway and even if they were, it wouldn't change or affect any outcome. IM is preaching to the choir here so you all keep enjoying your time together. "

I would have to say that it won't be a big loss to this forum if LM does leave. Reviewing previous posts of his I can't find a single one where he has made a point, or contributed in any way. Every post is just an attack against a particular individual - never a point made of his own, never a refutation - or even discussion - of the facts being argued. Just personal attacks.

So, I say "GOOD RIDDANCE"...but we all know that LM will be back, probably with a new id or as a nonnie. When people actually do stop participating in a forum like this, they generally just leave without any announcements.

Those who post the "goodbye forever" posts are almost 100% certain to still be hanging around and/or posting with a new id.

inquiring mind said...

The Board of Education entered into an "Agency Agreement" with the County whereby they could contract the Manager at Risk on the new high school project.

The public records indicate that the Board of Education contracted this position for almost $1.9 million. Why are we still having so many issues with this $90 million building?

We keep hearing about the problems and we are in the second year of occupancy now. The latest is that the Ag Classroom bathrooms and electrical outlets don't work and while the lobby and hallways are hot, the classrooms are freezing.

We have attempted to get a copy of the list of the volume of issues and corrective action taken (and at whose expense). The information has not been released. While sitting in on County meetings, we would hear about change order after change order (increases in costs). One that sticks out is the one where the gas lines were not run into the Chemistry lab. If the media told us about that bad spot on the counter in the Chemistry lab, at the old WHS, once, they told us a dozen times. So, why are they not exposing the construction problems with the new high school.

Who is responsible? Who is paying the tab?

And, the $90 million is what the County has paid. We have asked for the Board of Education's payments on the new high school. The "Agency Agreement" indicates the reason for the agreement is to also share in the cost.