CERTAIN “deficiencies” in public school audit reports have led to strained relations between school boards and the Ministry of Education, Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said.
Speaking at a training seminar for school board members, Mr Fitzgerald said his team is committed both to helping develop greater proficiency in financial management at public schools and easing the tense relations caused by accountability issues in audits.
He said every time school board training takes place, the question of school board fund management is raised.
“Today is no exception. I am dismayed that more often we have to address this from the standpoint of accountability,” he said.
“This is often a challenge for those individuals who are elected to serve, but may have little training or experience in record keeping and accountability.
“The sessions today about deficiencies in the school boards and school accounts/audit reports and the role and responsibilities of school boards in financial management should prove helpful in this regard.”
School boards play a very important role in ensuring accountability, responsibility and efficient management in the public education system, Mr Fitzgerald emphasised.
He commended the board members for accepting the task of ensuring that the nation’s youth gets the best possible education.
“Organisers, I applaud your tireless efforts to present a schedule of training initiatives that will explain the important role and responsibilities of school board members as outlined in the Amended Education Act of 1996,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald said he is sure that at the end of the seminar, participants will have a clear understanding of how they are supposed to work.
He said all education stakeholders are focused on maximising student achievement and improving the quality of classroom education.
“As I mentioned to your colleagues in Grand Bahama in November, the current Education Act states that, the board, in consultation with the principal and the minister shall determine the use of the school premises,” the minister said.
“I draw reference to these items in the Act, to highlight how critical your participation is in the decision making process in education. The job of a board member is not one for the fainthearted, but for one who is willing to do a formidable task.
“I implore you to read the Act so that you can have clarity on the purpose for which you were elected to office and to fortify your resolve to execute your duties.”
Mr Fitzgerald said the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, its school districts, school administrators and school boards all have a part to play in managing school resources.