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Published: Thursday, 8/26/2010

Calls grow for audit of TPS

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Greater Toledo Urban League has called for an independent panel to review operations of Toledo Public Schools — a day after the new superintendent found an additional $824,000 in the budget and a Board of Education member called for an outside audit of district finances.

The Toledo Board of Education voted Tuesday night at a special meeting to use the found money to rehire crossing guards, originally cut from the budget to help close a $39 million deficit.

TPS' annual operating budget is now about $250 million.

The loss of the guards was especially controversial because more students will walk farther to school this year with bus service also curtailed because of the budget problems.

The cuts to bus service affect about 5,000 students.

The revelation of an extra $824,000 amid deep cuts affecting student safety punctuates the need for such an independent panel, said John Jones, president of the Greater Toledo Urban League, at a news conference yesterday.

The Urban League was just one group calling yesterday for the independent study panel.

The local chapter of the NAACP, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, the African American Bureau of Commerce, and Toledo Area Ministries, among others, joined in with the league.

The plan is similar to one put forward by board President Bob Vasquez in early June. He told The Blade he wanted to form a panel of experts from business and higher education and from the community at large to bring expertise to reform how TPS does business.

He said he has been recruiting that panel.

The league and regional chamber's opinions on school matters carry extra weight this year because the organizations came out strongly against TPS' request for a May income tax levy.

The two groups do not normally comment on school district levy requests.

It failed by a nearly 2-1 margin at the ballot box; however, most new-money levy requests in May failed across the state.

The groups would not comment yesterday on a 7.8-mill November levy request, that, if approved, would be the largest new-money levy ever for TPS.



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