First the Northwest Herald’s David Fitzgerald finds Carpentersville District 300 violating the Open Meetings Act to switch Jacobs High School graduation ceremony from the school to Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
Now this enterprising reporter has discovered that one of District 300’s employees may have “mishandled more than $100,000 of student activity funds at Dundee-Crown High School.”
And this was going on during the referendum to raise the school district’s tax rate by 55-cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
The claim was that extracurricular activities, including sports, would have to be drastically cut. The first rebuttal was that extracurricular activities and sports made up less than 1% of District 300’s budget.
Then, the district admitted low-balling State Aid to Education, when Huntley School Board member Larry Snow pointed that out. Then Northwest Herald reporter (now Communications Director for District 300) Allison Smith did a story confirming that. Eventually, the board itself agreed.
And, guess what?
The ignored state aid was more than enough to pay for the student activities used by the tax hike committee as a major argument to vote in favor of the referendum.
Now, even the money paid by the students or obtained to subsidize those programs apparently turns up missing.
School districts in the southeastern part of McHenry County seem to have a problem handling money.
First, payroll money at Huntley School District 158 turned up missing.
Now, student activity money in District 300.
I wonder if it’s because of the water.
Huntley School Board member Larry Snow had this to say on the matter:
”Reconciling checking accounts is fundamental to having internal controls that detect and prevent theft and fraud.
The average taxpayer knows that their high-paid school administrators should be balancing the District’s check books.
“During the referendum, political statements were made that D-300′s C.F.O. is an expert and that they are being judged by those who are not experts. How much good judgment do you need to know that checking accounts need to be balanced?
“In the article ‘School Board Member Mary Warren said poor oversight of student activity funds had been a problem for more than five years.’ It doesn’t take an expert to know that you don’t let poor oversight continue for year after year.
“Liberal school board members praise school administrators as experts, but, then, after the referendum the facts come out that there’s been ‘poor oversight’ and a ‘problem for more than five years.’
“They are ’experts’ when they want to reward their friends with bonuses and salary increases, but allow them to keep their jobs even after admitting there’s been a “problem for more than five years.”
At least District 300 is trying to find the money and, presumably, get it back.
District 158 has at least as much it might recoup from administrators given health benefits without board approval, but don’t hold your breath waiting for its board to follow District 300’s example.