Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Paper Trail Details District in Turmoil

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Paper Trail Details District in Turmoil

Article excerpt

AUDIT DOCUMENTS: Details of a superintendent's troubled final months

BRADENTON

A Manatee County School Board member pressured former superintendent Tim McGonegal to quit after he learned about the district's $3.4 million deficit, according to more than 16,000 pages of documents released Friday that shed new details on the final months of McGonegal's tenure.

At a Sept. 10 meeting last year, member Robert Gause -- a former McGonegal supporter who "infrequently" hunted or golfed with him and regularly met with him before board meetings -- told the superintendent to resign immediately.

"Gause told McGonegal that he would recommend McGonegal's resignation to the board 'even if McGonegal had solutions for the FY12/13 budget,'" the firm Navigant wrote after interviewing them both as part of the forensic audit.

The audit's working papers -- these include financial records, emails and interview notes from McGonegal, board members and other district employees -- were released on the district's website Friday evening.

About three weeks ago, Navigant presented a final report detailing Manatee schools' lack of oversight, shoddy accounting software and a budget full of mistakes. Inaccurate employee payroll information and major programs left out of the budget were among other financial problems, although there was no proof of embezzlement, the audit said.

School officials said Friday they did not want to comment until they had digested the documents.

In his Navigant interview, McGonegal said he asked Assistant Superintendent Jim Drake to leave after Drake made several mistakes, including being off by $8 million on the fund balance for the 2010- 11 school year.

Drake complained he was "living the job, too much stress" so he resigned, he told Navigant in his interview.

Drake retired, unaware of a looming deficit in the general fund, he told auditors.

"He recalled that sometime during FY 11/12 the General Fund balance may be down to $5 million but there was never a concern that there would be a deficit," the Navigant interview notes said. …

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