UPDATE: Shelley High School overspent by more than $44K in 2018
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SHELLEY — Shelley High School came up more than $44,000 short during a 2018 financial audit in October.
Jolley said the shortage was due to overspending by the high school. During the audit, the overspending led the auditor to discover some inappropriate accounting practices, according to school board meeting minutes from October.
“During the (auditing) process, it was discovered that the high school financial secretary manipulated the beginning balances of the high school funds to match the bank statement balance,” the minutes read. “There is an actual shortage in the high school accounts in the amount of $44,245.31.”
“(The financial secretary) wasn’t sure how to correct the problem,” Shelley School District Superintendent Dr. Bryan Jolley said. “And rather than asking for help from the business manager over here, she thought she could go back and change balances in the books to make it match what the bank account said.”
The employee resigned as a result of her actions in November. The district isn’t releasing her name as it is a personnel issue. Jolley stressed the employee was not at fault for the overspending, just the changes to the books.
“I think it was just — she was inexperienced in accounting,” Shelley School District Business Manager Lanell Farmer said.
Despite many rumors surrounding the unexpected resignation of high school principal Eric Lords this week, Jolley was adamant these specific discrepancies in the high school’s budget has nothing to do with Lords’ exit.
Following a school board meeting on Thursday, the district authorized an audit of all high school budgets for the last three years to ensure no other discrepancies existed.
Farmer said the majority of the overspending happened in the administrative and special funds.
The audit also revealed the high school had been cashing out certifications of deposit accounts to offset costs associated with the school’s athletics programs. Jolley said the money from the CDs went directly into the high school’s accounts.
“They redeemed them and transferred them into the high school accounts to try and balance those club accounts and sports accounts and everything else that’s there,” he said.
Since the discrepancies were discovered, Shelley High School’s budgets are now monitored using the same financial software the school district uses.
“There’s a lot of things our business manager has done now to try and tighten things up,” Jolley said. “That way she can have a little better oversight over reconciliations and checking out each month. So we’ve got more checks and balances that way.”
The person the school district hired to replace the former financial secretary has a degree in accounting.
“We hired somebody that’s pretty qualified to work with those accounts and understands accounting procedures and what you can and can’t do,” Jolley said. “So I think that will make a big difference.”
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article claimed the unnamed female employee had been fired. Superintendent Jolley later clarified that she had in fact resigned. This article has been corrected.