Auditors reviewing Dept. of Ed policies

Auditors hired by the state will visit Dillingham City School District this week to ask local teachers and administrators how the Alaska Department of Education is doing.

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Ross Alexander is the performance review manager for the Alaska Division of Legislative Audit. He says the audit team is looking to have open-ended conversations about how state policies affect education at the local level.

“You know, what things can the Department do to provide better outcomes for students? What policies and regulations are burdensome?” Alexander said. “Just get a general picture of education in that environment so our review team has a good perspective as they put together their report.”

The review, which is being carried out by a firm called Public Works, comes out of a 2013 bill that says that each state department must be audited every 10 years.

Last year the Legislative Audit Division looked at the Department of Health and Human Services. The year prior, a review of the Department of Corrections identified systemic problems impacting the quality of inmate health care.

Alexander says this year’s review of the Department of Education will draw from school districts throughout the state, starting this week with Anchorage, Mat-Su, Dillingham, Sitka and Mt. Edgcumbe.

“And then there will be an additional trip in February, we believe, where they will visit a number of other rural school districts in all different parts of the state,” Mt. Edgcumbe said. “We’re trying to get a broad perspective – different regions, different school district sizes… so it’s an evenly balanced report.”

The audit also sent out surveys to every superintendent in the state.

The legislative audit team spent Monday in Anchorage, Tuesday in the Mat-Su, will spend Wednesday in Dillingham, Thursday and Friday at Sitka and Mt. Edgcumbe.

Over the next couple months, the DLA will schedule public hearings on the department of Education audit in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks.

Next year they’ll look at three – Agencies of the legislature, the Alaska Court System, and the Office of the Governor.