Archive for Friday, August 18, 2006

Baldwin district discovers fiscal shortfall

General fund overspent by $295,000

August 18, 2006

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— A recently completed audit shows the Baldwin school district is almost $300,000 in the hole. The school board and a packed crowd got the unhappy news Thursday at a special meeting.

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

Bezek said it was simply a matter of overspending, not criminal wrongdoing.

"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 that money was moved from account to account to pay for different items. Since then, Thomas has been able to move money back around among accounts to where the shortfall is in the supplemental general fund.

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

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

The overspending means things will be tight.

"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 for 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," Bezek said.

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

"We've got four really tough months that are going to be tight," Dorathy said. "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."

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