City School board finances under scope

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008


City School Board Chairman John W. Williams said Monday night there had been some problems with school finances, which needed to be clarified and resolved.

One matter was the stipend for Dr. Verdell L. Dawson, interim superintendent. Board members said Dawson&8217;s contract was not signed and approved, and she should not have been receiving the additional $2,300 in supplements.

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Hired as interim superintendent March 21, 2007, by a 7-1 vote of the school board, Dawson&8217;s salary is $6,500 a month. She has been receiving a monthly supplement of $1,500 for performing additional duties, along with an $800 monthly travel allowance.

Williams handed out a folder to each board member, asking they go through the financial material, including his report, the recommendations by its Selma accounting firm of corrections, and policies showing board members were responsible. It included a report the accountant outlined as part of their problem as the &8220;lack of fiscal and financial internal controls.&8221;

Williams said the responsibility of the school board was fiscal accountability. He said the information provided was for the board to determine the next steps.

In the material was a letter from Matthew R. Oaks, a Selma accountant, dated June 21, 2007. The three-page letter referenced inconsistencies in how the board handled purchase orders. He also questioned documentation for invoices, and how old reconciling items were not being resolved.

Sylvia Smith, who was named Monday to serve on the finance committee, said a forensic audit was detailed, and usually performed when there are allegations of fraud.

Dr. Anne Fitts pointed out the district recently completed an audit by the state.

Board member Barbara Hiouas agreed. &8220;I didn&8217;t see where they said anything was amiss,&8221; Hiouas said.

New board member the Rev. Winston Williams said if anyone was to be chastised, it should be the board. &8220;The board did not handle its business at that point,&8221; he said.