A state legislative commission’s report harshly criticizing how the Alamance-Burlington School System handled the awarding of contracts to deal with toxic mold in a number of school buildings last summer is “a waste of taxpayer dollars,” the school system’s interim superintendent said Thursday.

The report by the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations was released late Wednesday by state Sen. Amy Galey, R-Alamance, who had asked the commission in February to investigate ABSS’s capital and operations decisions after months of financial trouble and tense relations between the school system and the Alamance County Board of Commissioners.

The report said that ABSS may have violated some state-mandated budgeting procedures as well as its own policies in its awarding of no-bid contracts last summer even though state law allows no-bid contracts in case of a health emergency.

“No rationale was given for selecting those companies that performed the work other than they agreed to complete the work expeditiously,” the letter said. “There was no evidence presented that shows services were purchased ‘in a manner consistent with the board’s purchasing goals’ nor ‘after careful pricing.’ ”

ABSS spent about $29.3 million on the mold remediation efforts, according to the commission’s letter. Most of that, $22.6 million, went to Sasser Companies LLC. Another company, Builder Services Inc., received more than $5.1 million. Four other companies also were involved in either air-quality testing, HVAC repair or airflow evaluation.

The report also said that the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education chair Sandy Ellington-Graves signed 12 contracts for mold remediation work without the approval of the entire board, in violation of the board’s policy.

Ellington-Graves said school officials’ primary focus was ensuring the safety and well-being of students.

“I believe we all handled an unprecedented situation as closely ‘by the book’ as possible, given the urgency of the situation,” she said.

In addition, the report said that an independent auditor’s report after the 2022-23 school year found that the school board violated the School Budget and Fiscal Control Act by incurring nearly $4.3 million in expenditures that exceeded budgeted appropriations.

ABSS Interim Superintendent Bill Harrison lambasted the report.

“It’s a joke,” Harrison said. “We have some real financial issues with which we’re dealing. … My understanding is that GovOps was down there to help us uncover the cause of those and a way out. ... I hate to sound so disrespectful towards our people at the state level, but ... [the report was] a total waste of time.”

Harrison said state legislators need to revisit the state’s funding model for public education and focus on meeting their constitutional obligation to fully fund public schools.

“I just don’t think the state is doing what they’re constitutionally required to do, and leaving an unfair burden on our county commissioners,” he said.

Galey told the Times-News that Harrison’s criticism of the legislature’s education funding is baseless.

“It is irrefutable that North Carolina spends more state funds than ever before on traditional K-12 education. Average teacher pay has gone up over 16% in the last four years alone. To determine whether state funds are adequate for ABSS, we must look at student achievement,” she said, and cited ABSS’s below-average student scores on testing.

“The ABSS student population is presumably similar to the state student population in socioeconomic terms, and ABSS receives the same state funds as other school systems,” she said. “Adequacy of state funding cannot be the issue when ABSS receives equivalent funds but has poor outcomes compared to state averages.”