Funding foul-up fixed

The grassroots organization that presented the Barbour County Board of Education with $34,000 to keep middle school sports alive has discovered an error in the way the school system spent some of the money.

The mistake, spotted by a member of the Barbour All County Sports Organization, was corrected Wednesday, school officials said.

A total of $542.14 was taken from the restricted account for Barbour County middle school sports to pay an athletic trainer at Philip Barbour High School. The expenditure has now been credited to the correct account, officials said.

Dr. Joseph Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools, said he worked to correct the error quickly when he was made aware of the situation.

“When I was notified, I looked into the request and wrote an email asking for the mistake to be corrected,” Super said Thursday. “The mistake was corrected. I met with the individual who sent me the email and told her it had been corrected and that it was a coding error.”

BACSO president Lori Talbott Wetzel discovered the error and emailed the county board office.

“We just want the community to know that we are keeping a close eye on the funds they helped us raise,” Wetzel said. “We are holding the central office (of the Barbour County Board of Education) accountable for every penny spent from this restricted account.

“Once fall sports have ended and coaches from those sports have been paid, it is our intention to sit down with the central office (staff) and make sure only middle school coaches have been paid with these funds,” she said. “Of course, we will do the same thing in the spring and after winter sports have ended. Just as the community will hold us accountable, we will absolutely do the same with the board of education.”

Wetzel said BACSO is supposed to receive a monthly print-out of the restricted account and had not received one in September, so she requested a copy on Tuesday. After Wetzel received an email of the transaction activity report, she emailed Annette Hughart, finance director for the school system, asking her to explain the payroll expenditure.

Hughart responded to Wetzel by email, telling her the money went to pay for an athletic trainer at the high school. Wetzel immediately emailed Hughart back, reminding her the restricted fund was for middle school sports coaching salaries only.

Hughart sent a reply back to Wetzel on Wednesday, attaching a copy of an updated expenditure report and saying the mistake had been corrected. Hughart also wrote that she was sorry and the situation was a misunderstanding on her part.

Citizens and parents in Barbour County banded together after a January decision by the Barbour BOE to eliminate middle school coaches in the face of budget constraints. Community members quickly formed BASCO and worked on many fundraising events to raise the more than $34,000 board members said was needed to rescind their decision to cut the coaching positions.

In April, Wetzel presented the BOE a resolution outlining the organization’s donation for middle school coaching salaries. After receiving the $34,000, the board set up a restricted fund to pay the middle school coaching salaries.