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Audit evaluates what district is not doing right

By Dan Cooper

Staff Intern

EAST LONGMEADOW The documentation for the Education Quality Accountability (EQA) Audit, which examines policies, handbooks, professional development plans, and tours schools, is 98 percent complete, East Longmeadow superintendent of schools Dr. Edward Costa told the School Committee at their meeting Jan. 22.

"The documents are due in March and they [the audit] will be upon us mid-April," Costa said. "The audit is prone to publish what's wrong with a school district. They come in to see what the district is not doing right. We want them to publish what is right about this district."

Costa said he doesn't want to be just a checklist. "I want to set the standard for other districts."

Costa said the EQA Audit is based on a five-year timeline and that it is not set up by the Department of Education.

"This audit is conducted by the Education Management Accountability Commission, which was created by the legislature," Costa said. "This audit is seven times more important than the high school audit."

Costa also reminded the School Committee that they have been invited to the Jan. 30 Board of Selectman meeting to address a "Statement of Interest" for town reimbursement. "We are asking for signatures for a letter of intent to get reimbursement for the 12 new classrooms we have built and will build," Costa said.

Costa said there will be a site plan review on Feb. 6 to get approval to build the remaining classrooms.

Business Manager Theresa Olejarz told the committee that the oil business for December had been locked in at $1.74 per gallon and that the future market for January 2008 is $1.76 per gallon.

"The price fits our budget, so we could lock in a fixed price," Olejarz said. She said the six surrounding districts locked in at a higher rate.

Costa then introduced a proposal to vote on the 2007-2008 School Choice Participation.

"The state requires a formal vote to participate. I recommend we not participate because it's a blind drawing where we declare how many seats we have and names are pulled," Costa said. "We don't have enough open seats to do this, even though there is no minimum."

The committee voted not to participate in the program.

Costa then brought up a proposal that stipulates what to pay part time employees. "We have to update the policy in compliance with the new minimum wage. There are no benefits," Costa said. The policy was approved.

The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Public Schools office behind East Longmeadow High School.