In a unanimous decision, the Hilliard City School District Board of Education voted Monday night to create an audit and accountability committee.

In a unanimous decision, the Hilliard City School District Board of Education voted Monday night to create an audit and accountability committee.

Board president Denise Bobbitt said the committee was created after a survey conducted in the community this past summer regarding the levy revealed that residents of the school district thought more financial accountability and transparency was needed.

The advisory committee, which will consist of eight members and two school board members, will meet quarterly in February, May, September and November.

It will also review the annual financial projections made by the district's treasurer, which ultimately leads to the five-year forecast.

Committee members are also expected to review the independent auditor's opinions, review programs and policies of the district to ensure compliance and review the schedule of levies along with the estimated millage amounts.

Twice a year the committee will report its findings to the board in a public meeting.

Although the committee will only meet four times a year, Bobbitt and other board members expect the committee to absorb a lot of data.

Members will typically be appointed to three-year terms, with a couple of members seated on the first committee being appointed to two-year terms to ensure that not all of the terms expire at one time.

Board member Andy Teater said a wide net will be cast for finding quality people.

Finance law and accounting are two of the areas of professional expertise from which the school board is hoping to draw.

Teater said they are not bound by the municipalities within the district or even the school district itself, but they are hoping to find people with a vested interest in the district.

In the last several weeks, Bobbitt said, input has been gathered regarding audit and accountability committees from other school districts, such as Columbus Public Schools and the Olentangy Local School District.

Resident Paul Lambert, of 7275 Roberts Road, said he thought the school board was getting the "cart before the horse" in creating the committee. Lambert said it was more important for the board to create a Strategic Plan, and he then offered his services to the board.

Board member Dave Lundregan said the mission of the committee is important.

The mission statement calls for committee members to help the school board fulfill its responsibility to provide reliable internal and external financial reporting, ensure internal control structure is effective and efficient, provide management practices and operations that comply with policies and applicable laws, regulations and provisions of contracts and grants, and make sure management practices and operations are effective and efficient.

"If you look at what we heard from people and what we talked about it is obviously being as transparent as possible," he said, "and opening up everything we possibly can."

Bobbitt said school board members believe they are transparent, but with help from the Audit and Accountability Committee they will be looking through a fresh set of lenses. "There may be things we are overlooking," she said.

Initially, Bobbitt was concerned about having two board members on the committee because she did not want members to feel pressured or unable to express their views.

Board members, she said, will be able to answer questions about policies.

Board member Lisa Whiting said she does not want anyone on the committee to feel like they cannot share their beliefs. "Even if it is negative feedback," she said. "That is one of the biggest goals that could come out of this committee, if they see something that shouts at them, or even whispers at them, I really want them to be able to share that with us."

With the right mix of confident and competent people, Bobbitt does not think the committee members will have a problem voicing their views.