Schools May Lose $1,200 Per Student

  • Dr. Danny Whetton

    Dr. Danny Whetton

By Pam Sturdevant

New acting superintendent Dr. Danny Whetton was introduced at the El Tejon Unified School District board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12. He will be at the district office until Superintendent Shelly Mason returns from her medical leave. Thanks were given to Dr. Mark Fulmer who will be returning to the county office, but will still be available to assist Whetton.

District Director of Fiscal Services Terri Geivet said she “is at a loss” as to where she can carve further budget cuts out of the district’s operations.

Mark Fulmer added, “We have cut the fat, then cut the muscle, next we may have to cut limbs.” He said the actual real calculations could be $1,200 less per student this year. This is going to make this a very challenging year,” Geivet said.

Frazier Park Estates

President of the ETUSD Board of Trustees Ken Hurst asked the board if he could speak at the August 27 planning commission hearing regarding the Frazier Park Estates Development. He explained to the board he had studied the new Draft Environmental Impact Report.

“Water availability is definitely a major issue,” Hurst stated. He has serious concerns about adequate water, “If the well should go dry, the school would literally be up a creek,” he said.

Trustee Paula Regan suggested tapping into the Frazier Park Estates’ well, but Hurst explained that would not be a solution, since the school and the proposed development would both be seeking water from the same aquifer source. They could go dry together.

The ‘big questions’ are where water could come from for the school if that should happen, and how expensive it could be to get it to the high school.

Hurst proposed that a statement by the school board would carry more weight at the hearing than a statement from a private citizen. After long discussion, Hurst was finally given approval to attend the meeting on behalf of the board.

Audit of ASB Funds Problems

Dr. Fulmer said a county superintendent of school’s audit of the Frazier Mountain High School ASB fund irregularities is still underway and the report from the auditor should be ready at the September meeting.

Consideration to replace the counselor’s position with two part-time employees is not possible at this time according to FMHS principal Dan Penner, who announced that Frazier Mountain High School has received a three-year term of accreditation from The Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It will expire on June 30, 2012.

New Student Discipline Rules

The new student discipline rules were covered. The school’s lawyer will make some adjustments and bring the updates back to the board for a vote.

The Bond Oversight Committee has met and elected Craig Stowell as chairperson. The committee passed the bylaws and have received information from the architect. The good news is the process has began.

More on ASB Funds

At the end of the meeting Trustee Cathy Wallace began a new discussion of an item not on the agenda for board consideration.

She asked why Trustees John Fleming and Anita Anderson were invited to attend a meeting with The Mountain Enterprise and their accountant regarding the ASB money without informing the other board members.

Wallace said, “I thought the ASB account was put to bed. We all agreed it was a posting error according to ASB president Nick Onyshko’s report. The newspaper decided to look into this matter further.”

Geivet said, “[They] did not talk to anyone at the school. No public record request has been made, there has been no discussion with Dan Penner, myself or Erica Bennett.”

Cathy Wallace and Paula Regan said they want Anderson and Fleming to bring the full packet from the newspaper’s auditor to the next meeting but said Dr. Fulmer’s audit “will have more clout.”

Editor’s Note: There has been no “newspaper audit.” The Mountain Enterprise provided a forensic accountant to assist the students’ efforts to learn why $10,000 appeared to be missing from the ASB accounts. When the students graduated without full information being disclosed by the high school administration, the auditor met with the two trustees who had shown an interest in the ASB fiscal problem to discuss irregularities she had observed in the high school’s bookkeeping procedures.

Under the state Brown Act law, only two trustees can meet together informally at a time. Anderson and Fleming had shown the greatest interest, so they were invited to attend.

At that meeting the accountant, Rachel Unell, offered her card and an open invitation to members of the board to call upon her for a debriefing with the full board and administration. She has not yet been contacted, but says the invitation is still open.—Patric Hedlund

This is part of the August 21, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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