Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Audit shows school district has $300,000 shortfall

August 10, 2006

A recently completed audit has found that the Baldwin School District is almost $300,000 in the hole. The school board and a packed crowd got the unhappy news Thursday night at a special meeting.

"The supplemental general fund was overspent to the tune of $295,000," Board Attorney Bob Bezek said.

He said it was a matter of purely overspending, not of money being taken out of the district.

"This is not a case of taking any money, no suggestion of that at all," said Bezek. "Overspending your checkbook is not good, but it's not a criminal thing."

Bezek and Tom Thomas, the auditor, told the board money was moved from various accounts to others to pay for different items. Since then, Thomas has been able to move money back around to where the shortfall is in the supplemental general fund.

"They robbed Peter and the whole gang to pay Paul," said Thomas. "Most of this happened in the spring."

That was during former Supt. James White's tenure. He retired in June.

Thursday's news means it will be tight for spending in the district.

"Right now, we don't have the money to pay our bills," Bezek said.

New Supt. Paul Dorathy, Thomas and Bezek have come up with plans on how to get the district through the first semester. There will be no disruption of classes or activities as a result of the belt tightening, they said.

"It's not salaries and school will go on," said Bezek.

Dorathy assured the board that several items will be tried to come up with money, including a request for more state aid. But, things will be tight.

"We've got four really tough months that are going to be tight," said Dorathy. "We are looking at ways to solve this so that the buses will run, the kids will be in class, food will be served, teachers will teach and football games will be played on Friday night.

"Those things are going to continue to happen as long as we can get what we plan done," he said. "We will fix the problem. A year from now, it will be better. In two years, we will have this district back fiscally sound."

The Signal will update this story online and a full story will be in next week's issue.

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