Bergmann calls St. Vrain situation ‘baffling’
School superintendent says local district has budget safeguards in place
When a school district goes financially belly up to the tune of $12 million — as was the case with Colorado’s St. Vrain — it’s just baffling, said Moffat County School District Superintendent Pete Bergmann.
“I don’t see how St. Vrain got into the situation they are in,” Bergmann said. “When you look at the magnitude, it’s more than just an oversight.”
The St. Vrain School District, which serves about 22,000 students in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties, announced last month that its budget was $13.8 million short.
The assistant superintendent for the St. Vrain School District has been suspended and its finance director has resigned. District officials said an independent audit showed the two mismanaged the budget but didn’t commit fraud. The Boulder County district attorney’s office is investigating.
School boards are ultimately responsible for the health of a district’s budget, Bergmann said.
The Moffat County School Board not only receives an external audit every year but is presented with a monthly financial report complete with line items and check registers.
Bergmann said while it is possible to manipulate numbers in monthly reports, an external audit that is conducted by an independent auditor should reveal when those numbers do not add up.
The external audit is required of all state school districts, Bergmann said.
“It doesn’t add up to me,” the superintended said of St. Vrain’s situation.
Mike Brinks, the finance director for the Moffat County School District, said St. Vrain officials obviously were working with the wrong numbers.
“They spent more than they had,” Brinks said.
As finance director, Brinks said he analyzes the budget on a month-to-month basis and conducts budget comparisons every month to “keep track of where we’re at.”
While the annual budget of the Moffat County School District, which includes a general fund of about $16 million, is only 15 percent of St. Vrain’s budget, basic principles of accounting apply.
Bergmann said most of the district’s budget — about 70 percent of it — is made up of local taxes from Moffat County and the rest includes federal taxes, grants and other sources.
The superintendent said while he was not familiar with the St.
Vrain budget, some districts in the state are flip-flopped with much of their funding coming from the state. Those same districts often have to take out interest-free loans from the state.
When the first reports regarding St. Vrain came out in November, Bergmann said some school board members had contacted him to ask how that situation could have happened.
“We’ve told them we don’t know,” Bergmann said. “We don’t know how it could have happened
to that degree.”
Terrance Vestal can be reached at 824-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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