If those lamenting the political takeover of the Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 Board of Education want to claim that things would have been peachy if only the old board held onto the majority, they’d have a tough job explaining away why no one either on staff or on the board knows what the heck is going on with the district’s finances.
This is the time of year where school districts routinely pass their annual operating budgets, and in June the District 103 board voted to have the business manager prepare that document.
But in light of last week’s vote by the board to hire an auditing firm to unravel its financial statements, that may be harder than anyone expected, at least for now. The trouble is that back in January the district went to a new accounting software system. But no one in the previous administration apparently saw to it that the numbers were seamlessly transferred from the old system.
Of course, it didn’t help matters to have an election campaign going on in February and March that basically sent the signal, “Well, if we get in all of you dopes are going to be fired.” In many ways, that was a trigger to a mass exodus of administrators from the central office and left the district adrift for weeks.
And it was not at all helpful that the former superintendent, who must bear a good deal of the burden for this screw up, decided to take a powder before the election. What the former business manager was up to during this time we have no idea. He quietly found himself a new gig just after the election. He apparently felt the software issue was someone else’s problem, not his.
For the last couple of months, the new board has been scrambling to fill out an administrative team and the district is left flailing around as the new school year dawns, trying to figure out what its financial picture looks like.
Realistically, this school board had no alternative than to hire an outside firm to figure out where its money is. How much will this end up costing? Right now, who knows?
The unfortunate upshot is that whatever it costs will be directed away from educating children and toward bailing out adults who didn’t do their jobs correctly and created a situation so toxic that professionals who may have been able to solve the problems themselves had they been given the chance ran screaming from what they saw was a hostile takeover.
Now it’s up to Superintendent Kyle Hastings and the new school board’s hand-picked administrative team to clean up this mess, which was partially their own creation. And it’s up to the school board members to actually govern this process, though we remain unconvinced they are capable of doing that.
It’s been a heck of a way to start a new school year.