Oakland school district hires advisor to find missing money

Daily Planet Wire Service
Wednesday October 16, 2002

OAKLAND – A significant budget gap is plaguing the Oakland Unified School District and county officials have appointed a fiscal advisor while they wait to find out just how much money is missing. 

“The district is now saying that they’re still not ready to be able to release any numbers... I thought that they’d be able to close the books this week, but that hasn’t happened,” Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent Sheila Jordan said Tuesday. 

On Friday, Jordan appointed Joe Montora, deputy executive director of the independent Fiscal Crisis Management Team, to oversee any decisions that would negatively impact the budget. 

Montora is a former school superintendent and reports directly to the executive director of FCMT, Tom Henry. Jordan says together the two will work with the county to decide if a further audit is necessary. 

The reason for the budget gap is unclear at this time. 

While Jordan could not confirm that a misappropriation of funds might have occurred, she did say that “in every case revenues were overstated and expenditures were understated...it’s very clear that’s what is part of what’s going on.” 

The county had asked for an extension to approve the school district’s 2002-2003 budget. After it became clear a negative balance was anticipated, Jordan rejected the budget. 

After a definitive number is provided, Montora will begin working with the board and the superintendent on a developmental recovery plan. 

“This is not going to be solved in a minute. We’re talking about a major gap, and it’s going to take a while, to close the books, to stabilize the district, and to review,” said Jordan. 

Jordan hopes the district will wrap up its investigation by the end of the month. Then the country will decide if they need to do an in-depth audit.