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East Aurora board president: ‘lost my trust’ for administration

Annette Johnsis president East AurorSchool Board.

Annette Johnson is president of the East Aurora School Board.

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Updated: September 19, 2012 4:26PM

AURORA — The president of the East Aurora School Board said this week that she can no longer trust some of the School District’s administrators.

“You hear about micromanaging... so long as I stay with the school (board), that’s the way it’s going to be,” board President Annette Johnson said at Monday night’s board meeting. “Because I’ve lost my trust and I’ve been hurt by the accounting in this district.”

The district unnecessarily has taken a “large hit” in late fees for utility bills that were paid late, Johnson said. She said the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Finance Jay Augustine was responsible for paying those bills.

“That’s a big chunk of change in a bad economy,” she said. “Board members shouldn’t have to review every little invoice and bill.”

Through East Aurora spokesman Clayton Muhammad, Augustine declined to comment Tuesday. Augustine has submitted the paperwork to retire in November, according to Johnson.

Johnson also said the district’s maintenance department made 800 trips in seven months to an area hardware store “and then people aren’t really repairing the buildings.”

She said those trips were an inefficient use of staff time, and when a wrong part was purchased, it wasn’t always returned.

“We’re definitely digging into the details,” she said.

Johnson said questions posed by School Board members in e-mails went unreturned by administrators.

‘Had to micromanage’

She also said she had to directly get involved in a situation where someone was trying to give a $75,000 grant to the district.

“They said to me, ‘How can we give the district this grant?’” Johnson said. “Again I had to get involved in it, had to, I guess, micromanage. I had to make people go and do their jobs.”

Johnson said she’s not pointing fingers at all of the administrators. She said her criticism is not directed at Superintendent Jerome Roberts.

“Dr. Roberts had spent a lot of time working on curriculum and he had been less focused on the operations. He can’t be in all places at all times,” Johnson said.

“There are some (administrators) that are doing a really, really good job,” she said. “But others need to pay attention to the details.”

Muhammad said Roberts had no comment except that he is working with the School Board to address concerns.

Department restructuring

Johnson said Tuesday that the board has worked to restructure the finance, technology and maintenance departments.

“People were moved around and some people chose to retire,” she said.

Johnson said the district’s technology director has resigned. A work order system was put into place for the maintenance department and a new maintenance supervisor was recently hired, she said.

Johnson complained that it has been up to the School Board to “go out and run the School District.”

“You have to be a part of change because change hasn’t happened in this School District for 30 years,” Johnson said.

“I can guarantee... by the end of this we’ll find at least $1 million in savings,” she said.

The School Board Monday night approved the hiring of an accountant who will be responsible for coordinating monthly financial reports and assisting with an annual financial audit. The accountant will be paid $18 to $23 an hour, according to district records.

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