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SAN TAN VALLEY — Florence school board members indicated they were losing patience with “after-the-fact” bills that weren’t processed correctly, show up late and aren’t covered in the current budget.

On Oct. 12 the board considered an unusually big one — $17,800 for transportation software, materials and services. Board President Denise Guenther noted this is half a teacher’s salary. The board voted 3-2 not to pay. Guenther was joined by Vice President Steve Johnson and board member Roger Biede in voting no.

In this case, a transportation employee who was assigned to complete the paperwork didn’t do so. District Finance Director Beverly Myers told the board an email is sent every year to all employees reminding them of proper procedures. Procurement is not currently a part of new employee orientation, but that can be done, she said. She continued that principals are also briefed on procurement policies.

Johnson said his concern is that in his six years on the board, he is seeing more of these “after-the-fact” bills than ever. “So let’s stop it,” he said. “How we’re going to do that I’m not sure.” He said it may mean an infomercial at the district-wide employee convocation at the beginning of each school year. “This is a serious, serious offense,” Johnson said.

“I agree totally,” Myers said, “and there has to be consequences, too. We’ve tried bringing in individuals in front of the board for what they’ve done in regards to after-the-facts.” She said the district would send letters to vendors, and she would work with the superintendent to propose potential consequences for employees.

“And the vendor knows they’re getting paid because it’s government dollars,” Johnson said.

Bond spending update

Also at the Oct. 12 meeting, Myers presented an update on how the district has spent a $25 million bond issue which voters approved in 2017.

Recent purchases include just over $76,000 on remodeling, renovations and improvements, and almost $1.5 million on buses and similar vehicles. The district bought six 2021 buses and one 2022 bus, all with two-way radios. The district also paid to mount televisions in classrooms around the district.

Major capital projects paid for with the bond in recent years have included expanding the Florence K-8 gymnasium and building the Steve McKane Practice Complex at Florence High School. There have also been improvements to other sports fields and lighting, other sports facilities, playground improvements and security upgrades.

There is still $2.7 million left to spend from the bond issue.

The board also approved the district’s annual financial report. The district spent $41,315,128 on regular education, $13,254,333 on special education and $4,126,305 on pupil transportation. All of these amounts were under-budget, according to the report.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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