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PPS committee examines top-tier earners

The Portland Public Schools board audit committee continues its work on an audit of upper management salaries, in light of last spring’s revelations that some had received significant salary increases.

A Nov. 24 meeting of the committee was sparsely attended, however. Committee Chair Mike Rosen attended, but co-committee members Paul Anthony and Julie Esparza Brown were not present.

“Well, maybe this is going to be quick,” Rosen said.

The meeting was to finalize the audit process for TKW, the accounting firm the committee contracted to perform the audit.

The committee’s plan is to audit salaries of administrators in the central office making more than $70,000 who either had more than a 3 percent raise or have a position created in the past two years. The audit would review the supporting documents — such as looking at comparable salaries in other school districts — that the district used to justify the increases of more than 3 percent or the creation of new positions. Finally, the auditors could suggest ways the process for setting salaries could be improved, including more board oversight.

Several school board members said that they felt blindsided by the salary adjustments when news media reported on them last spring.

The entire board is expected to vote on the recommendations from the audit in early 2016.

Rosen also asked Chief of Staff Amanda Whalen for the departments affected by the five audits performed in the district since 2011 to send a report to the committee.

“Just, like, a memo from the affected departments to what extent the recommendations have been followed,” he said. The audits were on special education, performance measures, opportunities for savings in teacher absences, the bond’s school improvement plan, and graduation rates.

The meeting lasted approximately 20 minutes, and no votes were taken.

“For the record, I think in terms of running these meetings, we tend to get done really early, because we tend to get (expletive) done,” Rosen said, adding: “The big thing is what’s coming in January.”

That is when TKW will present its initial findings to the committee. The audit is budgeted to cost $33,840 in total.

The next audit committee meeting is Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Blanchard Education Service Center.

Shasta Kearns Moore
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