|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Wednesday, 22 September 2010 00:00|
The Camp Verde Unified School District’s most recent audit was less than perfect. It also resulted in a divided school board voting 3-2 to hire a new person to keep an eye on finances.
For the past decade, there have been errors in figuring the public school system’s budget.
That’s not to say that all the money was unaccounted for; the district simply didn’t have the tools in place to accurately record what money was spent from where.
Interim Sedona Superintendent Nancy Alexander helped to come up with a few options for the Camp Verde School District, but it all boiled down to one fact: The district could pay money now and fix the problems, or the district could fix the problems later and pay for it.
“There was no clear system in place,” Alexander said. “There was no clear idea of where the dollars were going.”
That’s not to say that the dollars were misused. It’s just that when dollars were needed to pay for something, it wasn’t always clearly recorded where they came from.
The district now needs to hire a person to keep track of its funds, despite budget cuts and caution when it comes to hiring.
“It could take anywhere from 12 to 18 to 24 months to get everything running as a smooth machine,” Alexander said.
Board member Andrea Wrubel argued this was a critical time for the school district; the district has to prove that it is “stepping up to the plate” of fiscal responsibility.
However, board member Helen Freeman wasn’t convinced the district needed to hire a new full-time employee. Freeman said she felt a responsibility to manage the school district’s money, and with more possible budget cuts coming from the state, she felt hiring a new employee was irresponsible.
Freeman added there was the possibility of finding people who already work for the school district who might have “hidden talents” that could benefit the district.
Superintendent Dan Brown said he felt hiring a new professional would help get the district’s books in order.
Freeman argued spending money on a new employee who deals with finances would divert money from other things the district needs to spend funds on.
Wrubel said the district is currently under a microscope wielded by the state, and the district should do whatever it can to keep its house in order. While money could be spent in the classroom, Wrubel argued making sure the state doesn’t take over the district was the highest priority.
Brown said if someone wasn’t hired to help fix the problems in finance recording, something else would have to be cut or subject to reduced funding in order to make up the difference in the school budget.
Board members Freeman and Judy Gilbert voted against the measure, arguing the district could find talent from within to solve the problem.
Brown said he was surprised to find evidence of financial reporting issues as a new superintendent. The board was surprised to deal with responsible financial reporting issues that stretched back as far as 10 years.
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