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Consultants to help Gainesville schools fix accounting problems

POSTED: February 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.
GAINESVILLE — Gainesville city schools is working to fix some bookkeeping problems stemming from last year, according to a report school officials plan to make at the City Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

There were "many bookkeeping errors with entries during the past year, meaning most data is not correct," says the report, a memo Thursday from Superintendent Steven Ballowe and finance director Janet Allison.

The report notes challenges associated with the system’s conversion to new accounting software, troubles regarding Allison’s predecessor and the retirement of a key department member.

"While there are no illegal bookkeeping problems, the transition and correction has required (Allison) to utilize several consultants to correct (errors)," the report says.

In April, while the district was putting the new software into effect, former finance director Angela Adams "was placed on a plan of improvement" for certain job-related issues, the report says.

In July, Adams left the district with two weeks’ notice for Buford city schools. She left without closing the books for the 2006-07 school year, opening the books for 2007-08 or completing implementation of the software, the report says.

Adams, reached Friday at Buford schools, declined to comment.

Allison became interim finance director in August and was later named chief financial officer.

She has used several consultants "to address crucial items that needed correction."

Dennis Fordham, retired superintendent of Hall County schools, will help the school system put together its 2008-09 budget, as a consultant paid by Cleveland-based Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency.

And Wednesday, Barrow County school officials "will send a team composed of finance, human resources and school food-service" personnel to help with implementing the software.

School officials will recommend hiring Frank Harben, who just left the school board after eight years, as a consultant, paying him up to $10,000 for his work through February 2009.

Harben would use his experience as an accountant and board member to, among other things, meet with state auditors and create a report "to the community to highlight the public understanding of school funds," the report says.

Tuesday’s school board meeting, moved from the usual third Monday of the month because of Presidents Day, is set to start at 7 p.m. in the system’s central offices at 508 Oak St.


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