Marion Board tackles financial questions, forensic audit possible

March 7, 2019

By John Raffel

The Marion Public School Board debuted a new format on Tuesday by having a special workshop at 6 p.m. 
“The meeting was well attended,” board president Alicia Michell said in a statement she provided to the Marion Press. “The board has decided to try this new format each month in an effort to better involve the community in our decision making. We want to be transparent with the public and let them know that this is their school and. Together. we can make it great.”

Michell added in her statement Tony Maddox spoke during public comment and commented the transportation department was doing well and didn’t feel any changes were necessary.

Michell added finance committee members Linda Raymond and Tammy Ladd reported back that finance director Katrina Bontekoe had sufficiently answered each of their questions in a recent meeting with Bontekoe, David Cox, ISD superintendent, ISD board president Ken Bollman and Marion Superintendent Chris Arrington.

Michell pointed out Arrington informed board members and others at the meeting that there had been concerns over improprieties with the finances and there was discussion that a forensic audit might be needed.

Raymond commented Michell said the Office of Retirement Services was a concern and that there were a few more questions she had. Michell indicated board members had problems getting answers on finance questions. The committee said financial questions will now be answered.

Transportation supervisor Brad Sikkema, Michell said, provided various scenarios for buying or leasing buses. He indicated the current bus fleet is in “good shape” but replacement would be needed within two or three years. There is bond money to buy at least one new bus or lease, Sikkema reported.

Superintendent Chris Arrington indicated Marion has a chance to secure two grants totaling well over a million dollars. One grant would provide every students’ family a device and internet connection to their house. The other grant would provide for an after-school program.

Michell told the board that superintendent’s evaluation process needs to begin immediately. She said Arrington agreed he could start the actual evaluation process at the April workshop meeting.

The board voted unanimously to approve overnight stays for the upcoming robotic competition. Tony Baldwin and Ron Schmidt coach the high school  “Eagle Engineers” team. Arrington thanked Ross Richards of Pollington Tool for a donation of $2,000 along with donated tools for the robotics team.
“The board is working very hard along with Mr. Arrington to create an environment in the District in which parents, staff, students, and the community will all be part of making Marion Public Schools the best,” Michell said. “We are looking for people to help on subcommittees such as: school improvement, finance, health and wellness, policy,  and especially marketing. Please let your board member or Mr. Arrington know if you are committed to help.”

The next board meeting is set for 6 p.m. on March 12, in the elementary library.

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