School District Explains Budget Shortfall Officials Respond to Parents' Questions

By Carolyn Bower Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

School District Explains Budget Shortfall Officials Respond to Parents' Questions


Carolyn Bower Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District ran up a $1.5 million shortfall last year because of incorrect projections of revenues and spending, school officials said Tuesday night.

"We always asked if there was money to cover our expenditures, and the standard answer was `Yes, we can meet our budget,' " said Lynn Shipp, the president of the district's School Board.

Shipp's comments came at a meeting at the district's high school. Board members arranged the meeting to answer 18 questions parents have raised about the district's finances. About 80 people attended. This was the first detailed public effort to answer questions about how the shortfall happened since the deficit became public knowledge 3 1/2 months ago. Patrick Jackoway, a parent and one of the organizers of Tuesday's meeting, said the meeting went well. He said statements by school officials showed board members had trusted their former finance director, Richard Wells, and acted on information he provided without verifying it. Wells now holds a similar position for the University City School District. A woman who answered the phone at his home Tuesday said he was not interested in commenting. One board member, Tony Kunce, said board members should accept responsibility for obtaining accurate financial information to make decisions. "That should have come from here," Kunce said, gesturing to where the board sits. "I express regret that it did not." School officials explained to parents that they learned Oct. 2 from audi tors about a discrepancy in the teachers and capital projects funds in the budget year that ended June 30. The overspending forced the district to borrow money and led the state to place the district on its financially stressed list. …

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