Textbook affordability among audit findings for State College of Florida

Audit findings were among the topics discussed at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota board of trustees meeting Tuesday.
Audit findings were among the topics discussed at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota board of trustees meeting Tuesday.

A full-time professor is more likely to be able to put together an entire course-load of reading and reference materials without requiring students to purchase a textbook. An adjunct faculty member may not be able to do that and may require students to purchase a textbook for the course.

If those two teachers are leading the same course but at different times, that creates a discrepancy. The student taking the class with the full-time professor won’t have to buy the textbook; the student taking the course with the adjunct will have to pay for a book.

That became an issue for State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and was one of four operational audit findings listed by the Florida auditor general, released in late September and discussed by the board of trustees at a meeting Tuesday. The audit also dinged the school for background screening, access control and payroll processing.

“We’re on the low side of average on our audit findings,” Julie Jakway, the college’s vice president for finance and administrative services, reported. She noted that most of the issues SCF was found to have were consistent at other institutions.

Quite a few of the colleges changed vendors during the summer and, because of that, they failed to post the required textbooks for classes at least 45 days before classes began. In addition to missing that deadline, the college was cited for the disparity.

President Carol Probstfeld said administrators are encouraging more of their faculty to develop coursework without requiring textbooks and said quite a few departments are working together to head in that direction, but until they get there, they could avoid the issue if they forced all professors to use the same textbook.

“We’d be in compliance but we wouldn’t be offering courses with no textbook cost. That’s what kind of silly about this finding,” Probstfeld said.

It takes a lot of time, effort and resources to develop a course with no textbook, Probstfeld said.

“It’s not just something you can hand to the next faculty member that comes in. While we’re moving in that direction, that piece of it is not as simple as one might think,” she said.

In the other findings:

  • The auditor general recommended the college tighten background checks. The college has already updated its procedures and is expanding background checks on consultants or contractors who have access to student information.
  • The auditor general recommended the college implement procedures to review supervisor work. The college has already established and implemented those procedures.
  • The auditor general recommended the college tighten who can manage the internal system. The college will be creating periodic reports to detail security class assignments for review and potential action.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

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