"An important place remains for what Secretary Goodwin has identified as the 'watchdog' and advocacy role of the Secretary in making sure that the [state board] remains publicly accountable and, crucially in a democracy, constantly if collegially questioned," the audit states. "While we recommend that the Legislature consolidate operational roles such as the conduct of professional development in WVDE, we also suggest that it expand the more general oversight and advocacy role of the executive branch through the Secretary of Education and the Arts.
Auditors expected that this recommendation, among others, would "undoubtedly engender heated debate amongst many in West Virginia."
Although auditors suggested Goodwin's expanded oversight role, they did not get specific.
Goodwin did not have much to say about her role in the education system's new direction.
"We don't have a role in the audit, really. The audit is about K-12 education, and that's about as much as I know about it," Goodwin said.
She and the governor's staff are "pleased that by the completion of the audit process, everyone will have a chance to hear suggestions and make suggestions for any changes that will make a difference in the expenditure of scarce funds," she said.
But, she said, it's most important that any necessary improvements will benefit students "from early childhood to elementary and high school, all the way to their post-secondary graduation ceremonies."
In its response to the audit last week, the state Board of Education agreed mostly with the recommendations concerning Education and the Arts' roles in professional development. The board said leadership in that area has become fragmented and cited "a substantial erosion of powers and responsibility vested in the BOE by the state constitution."
"Someone must assume the leadership role, own this issue and be accountable for the results," the board members said in their response. They believe the state Department of Education, with the board's oversight, should fulfill that role.
But to be successful, they said the Legislature "must be willing to vest in the Board the authority and resources that now are scattered throughout the system, and then work with the Board as it creates an effective professional development delivery system."
President Wade Linger will present the board's audit response to lawmakers Tuesday at the state Capitol.Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.