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Roberts: East’s financial ‘tide was already turning’

Jerome Roberts

Jerome Roberts

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Updated: November 15, 2012 6:38AM

East Aurora Superintendent Jerome Roberts says in a new letter that he had been “tackling the issue” of the district’s credit card spending two months before Beacon-News reports revealed that about half of the administrator’s credit card receipts are missing.

Roberts, responding to an Oct. 7 Beacon-News story, writes, “by the time readers learned of the problem, the tide was already turning in the way things are handled by the district’s finance department.”

Roberts told the Beacon that “about half” of the receipts are missing that would show exactly what administrators purchased on district-provided credit cards at shops like Target, Wal-Mart and online retailer Amazon over the past year.

The Oct. 7 story examined specific examples of administrators’ spending that at the time could not be backed up with receipts.

The district’s Old Second Visa Business Card statements show that in a one-year period, East Aurora administrators spent $322,733 on the charge cards. Roberts said in the letter that the majority of administrators were keeping receipts, but not all.

“Without question some administrators were not, and the responsibility for their actions rests on their shoulders,” he wrote. “Those who remain valued employees of the district accept that responsibility and have adjusted to the new standards of accountability.”

Roberts continued: “Could we have individually and collectively been more financially focused? Yes! Will we? You better believe it.”

After a series of financial discrepancies were discovered, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Jay Augustine announced his immediate retirement late last month.

On Tuesday, the school district confirmed insurance coordinator Penny Halvax had been fired. According to personnel reports, Halvax, a secretary to Augustine, was fired Sept. 28. Halvax was the district’s health benefits and insurance coordinator.

Officials had previously admitted that the district’s Finance Department was not collecting the correct deductions for the employee insurance coverage.

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