Oak Grove financial overhaul continues
She wasn't mentioned by name, but the practices of former business manager Cheryl Roberts are ringing clear as Oak Grove District 68 continues an overhaul of how its money is spent.
"There were no formal checks and balances," said Lane Hasler, a school board member who chairs the finance committee. "We're putting in professional policies and systems and reports."
The Green Oaks-based district has not experienced the budget difficulties some other districts have had. But procedures have been under review and a new system is being implemented.
On Thursday, finance committee members discussed several potential policy changes, which if approved become district mandates.
One of them, for example, says that no District 68 administrator should approve or sign a payment to themselves or a relative.
"We've implemented this as a procedure but given the district's past, we need it as a formal board policy," Hasler said.
The proposed policy is designed for extracurricular stipend checks, he added.
Roberts faces charges of theft and theft by deception for stealing more than $54,000 from the district, according to prosecutors. She resigned last fall for reasons unrelated to the charges. She has pleaded not guilty. Her next scheduled court date is May 18.
Prosecutors say Roberts overpaid herself for the annual salary stipend she was supposed to receive as an assistant girl's basketball coach and continued to draw the stipend after she stopped coaching.
While the district's finances were sound, the business practices were not formalized, said Gordon Boulger, another finance committee member.
"What we have is a well-run district that had a couple of gaps that shouldn't have been there," he said.
For example, the district for years has been paying for a bus route to take students to a parochial school which is outside the district, an expense it may not be responsible for.
Hasler said the district should not be spending taxpayers' money unless it is obligated to do so.
Business Manager Paul Starck-King said the budget process is being changed to a decentralized approach where, for the first time, individual budgets are being submitted for review rather than being produced by the business office.
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