I wrote about how two members of District 158’s Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) went to the Board’s Finance committee meeting last month.
When it came time to discuss the audit there were no copies of the draft of the audit for anyone in the audience.
Not exactly a model for transparency.
Now turn to last Tuesday night—about three weeks later. The Financial Advisory Committee held its quarterly meeting.
On the agenda was an update of the audit.
In past years this committee reviewed the draft of the audit.
Seems like an appropriate role for a Financial Advisory Committee.
But not this year.
No audit information for them.
Makes you wonder what is revealed in the audit, doesn’t it?
By saying the audit was on the district web site.
But members said they looked that day and it wasn’t there.
Then Mrs. Ferrier thought she might try a Huntley two-step:
“Copies were available at the meeting.”
Except they weren’t. (Maybe you can find it now.)
This technique didn’t work because the FAC members said they were at the meeting and were told there were no copies for the audience.
Seeing a train wreck in progress in front of a Northwest Herald reporter and a teachers’ union co-president, board member Larry Snow in the audience suggested copies of the audit be made and passed out at the meeting.
Then Mrs. Ferrier made an interesting admission.
She said she couldn’t distribute copies of the audit unless she phoned Superintendent Burkey and he approved it.
Forget the fact that the document was discussed at length weeks before at a public meeting.
In the Huntley school district strange rules apply.
A committee of the board is not going to receive financial audit information apparently until the superintendent deems it’s time.
Was the phone call made to Burkey and he turned down the request?
Or was the committee blown off by his subordinate’s not bothering to make the phone call?
Either way, the committee didn’t receive a copy of the audit that night.
One member of the FAC called a spade a spade and said with $1.5 million of errors it looked like the audit work was sloppy.
This didn’t sit very well with Mrs. Ferrier who took umbrage to the remark. Ferrier said words to the effect that she is very proud of the precise accounting the fiscal office does.
Precise accounting and good work?
- Large material accounting errors that got past the auditor
- Internal control deficiencies that are first disclosed by the auditor to the entire Board at a public meeting
Huntley school administrators have a history of orchestrating financial deceptions.
And fooling the independent auditor.
In times past, hundreds of buses were depreciated that didn’t exist (to inflate how much money the state owes the district). The records of who sent in those false reimbursement claims disappeared.
When administrators inflated school attendance records to the state, that was a deception.
When they forgot to tell residents before the 55-cent tax increase referendum vote how $5 million in new unbudgeted money was a couple weeks away that was a deception. (All Superintendent Steve Swanson had to do was fax in a signed form to the state saying, “Okay, please send us the $5 million now.”)
It seems apparent someone in the fiscal office knew the district’s property tax revenue was being inflated in 2007 above how the original audit said it was calculated. And again when the fiscal office gave the auditor more inflated numbers for 2008’s audit.
Why would Superintendent Burkey reportedly exercise such tight personal control over release of the audit to board-appointed advisers?
What is there to hide in the audit?
One thing is probably the material internal control deficiencies that the auditor disclosed for the first time at a public meeting. There should be no surprise about that considering what former Chief Financial Officer Stacie Talbert discovered and reported to the board a year ago.
If the board majority wanted full disclosure in a timely fashion, I doubt Superintendent Burkey would be withholding such information.