The School District is a step closer to hiring a forensic auditor to look into the Horace O'Bryant School construction project after the Audit and Finance Committee narrowed its search to three interested companies.
Five companies had responded to the district's request for proposals. The decision was made at the committee's Sept. 23 meeting, which was attended by two representatives of the company whose work will be audited, Coastal Construction of Miami.
"We have invited the three top firms to make presentations at the Oct. 15 meeting," said committee member Stuart Kessler. "I anticipate that we'll take whatever information we gain as a result, and re-vote our preference using the scoring rubric. Then we'll give our recommendation to the board, who will vote on it."
The three companies that received the nod include two large accounting outfits: McGladrey LLP; and Carr, Riggs and Ingram LLC; as well as one local bidder, Bishop, Rosasco and Co.
The Carr, Riggs and Ingram firm has previously done internal funds audits for the School District, according to Kessler.
One name missing from the short list is that of Pribramsky & Co., whose CEO, Steve Pribramsky, conducted an attestation, or smaller-scale audit, of certain aspects of the HOB project. Pribramsky also is a former School Board member.
"Steve is highly capable, but the other firms we selected have major experience in this area," Kessler said. "In fact, one of these companies does nothing but audits of public construction projects, which is a highly specialized field. Price was just one factor in our decision."
The final bill for the service will come in somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000.
In other district news, a lawsuit filed against the district by watchdog Larry Murray was tossed out of court Friday by Circuit Court Judge David Audlin.
Murray, representing himself, filed suit on Sept. 16 claiming that the district in general, and Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter in particular, had stonewalled his requests for public records made on Aug. 15, 16 and 29.
In dismissing the case on a technicality, Audlin noted that since the suit had been filed, Murray's requests had been honored by the district.
Murray had sought to reclaim his legal fees, as well as promises of more prompt attention from the district on future requests.
"I lost the battle but won the war," Murray said.