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3:19 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Chloride school district to keep state funding - for now

State funding of the Chloride Elementary School District will continue until at least Aug.

1 by which time a new audit will determine if the district is in compliance with the Uniform System of Financial Records (USFR).

That decision came out of a hearing Monday of the state Board of Education in Phoenix, according to board member Mike File.

³The auditor general¹s office will come out and do a substantial audit to see if the deficiencies were corrected and if they have not been funds will be withheld,² File said.

³The district can appeal any decision against it and funding would continue until the matter is heard in court or an auditor finds it compliant.²

File said the hearing lasted about 45 minutes and that Nancy Estenson, Jeanne Greenfield and Blanche Rodgers, all members of the governing board of the Chloride School District, were present.

Estenson discussed the issues the district has faced in preparing for the audit and progress made to date in getting its books in order, File said.

The district will be ready for the audit, Estenson said.

She said new principal Jim Wayland was in Phoenix on Tuesday to set up an appointment time for the audit.

Wayland is the third principal at Mt.

Tipton School, the one school in the district, in the past year.

Mary Knippel was interim principal for much of the 1999-2000 fiscal year, and Cal Richard was principal from March 27 through June 21.

Bookkeeping problems at Mt.

Tipton School date back July 1998 when the auditor general¹s office notified the state Board of Education that the district was in violation of the USFR.

An audit done in October 1998 found problems in nine areas including general fixed assets, accounting records, budgets, revenues, the annual financial report, payroll, food services, student activities fund and federal compliance with grants.

³We¹re now in compliance in seven of those areas,² Estenson said.

³Cafeteria and revenue budget are still being worked on, but we¹ll be ready for the audit.²

Estenson said bad recordkeeping under previous principals and business managers are responsible for the problems the district now is working to correct.

She stated emphatically that no moneys were misused.

Judy Abraham, a certified public accountant who worked for Kingman High School for 20 years, has done much of the work to get district ledgers in order, Estenson said.

In addition, she said Doug Lutz of Arizona Retirement Financial Services was hired to do budgets last year.

The Chloride School District had a budget of about $1.2 million in 1999-2000.

The district has about 250 K-6 pupils.