School district works on final three standards for state audit

Alyssa Holland, Online Editor

   George County High School’s ongoing audit finally has a finish line in view. 

   The audit was first opened by the Mississippi State Department of Education in July of 2019. The state delivered the results of the audit in June 2021 stating that the district was in violation of 24 of the 32 standards. 

   “ The state identifies 32 standards of what schools and school districts have to be in compliance with, our school district was not in compliance in 24 of those 32 standards , and each standard has a bunch of substandards,”  Superintendent Wade Whitney said. 

   Each violation consists of a variety of subsections that also have to be completed in order for the standard to be considered finished. Currently the district is still working to fix the three remaining violations. The audit violations that are left to be submitted for approval are residency and immunization, along with buses and transportation.  The paperwork for the remaining violations is reported to be submitted by the end of this school year. 

   The violations did not occur under the current administration, but instead under previous administrations.

   “In 2018 to 2019 our school district went through a complete investigative audit of every department in our school district. 2018 to 2019 was under previous administration, so all of the information that was gathered and all of the findings that took place in the audit were found under a previous administration prior to me taking over in 2020. With that being said all the things that were found were presented to us in 2021 so everything that we’ve done has taken place since 2021,” Whitney said. 

   Overall, 17 standards have been completely cleared and submitted to the Mississippi Department of Education, which is a vast improvement from the eight standards the school was compliant with before the audit. 

   The upheaval for completing the entire audit has been a long process that involves every school and department in the George County School District.

   “ Because the audit was so comprehensive, it touched every single school, and every single department in our school district,” Whitney said. “ It has been exhausting for our school district;

it has been like an albatross around our neck because I’ve said this the other day, think how good we could be if we only had to concentrate on school and not on the things that we inherited that we have to correct.” 

    While the district has been working through the audit they have improved and maintained a high education standard. For the first time in history George County School District is an ‘A’ ranked district. The high school became a ‘A’ ranked school and has a graduation rate of 95.7 percent for last school year. 

   “ I think it has galvanized our school district. It has made everybody in our school district feel like they are a part of something to improve our school district because there is no department, no teacher, no school in our district that is not affected by it, so everybody has a part in clearing all the standards and getting us off this audit. It will be a big day for us when it happens,” Whitney said.   

  According to Whitney, the audit will not affect the credibility of any diploma from George County High School.

   “ The efforts that we are making to remove that probation status, no one should have any hesitation about, it’s going to happen. Having a school district on probation doesn’t affect anybody. It doesn’t affect anybody’s graduation, it doesn’t affect their diploma, it doesn’t affect any of that, “ Whitney said. 

 The audit is predicted to be completed in October of 2023 when the State Board of Education annually meets to discuss and approve accreditation statuses.