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Benton Harbor Area Schools CFO steps down

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — yet another shake up is happening at Benton Harbor Area Schools.

While the leader of the district is still on paid leave, the head of the district’s finances is stepping down.

The school board called a special work session at the administration building Tuesday when that announcement was made.

Carolyn Gibbs had been in the position for just three months before letting trustees know her tenure as chief financial officer would come to an end on March 2 for personal reasons.

The board called two closed session meetings Tuesday.

The first one addressed the ongoing investigation into the $2 million safety and gang prevention grant.

The second meeting was with a representative from the state’s treasury department in regards to an amendment to the consent agreement.

The board came out of those meeting and made two resolutions.

The first one hired an accounting firm to handle the district’s finances in Gibbs’ absence.

And separately, the board agreed to be reimbursed up to $500,000 from the state for any additional staff needed in the district.

“This is just us doing our due diligence,” said trustee Joseph Taylor. “We have to make sure that we’re operating and not only meeting the needs of our students but our taxpayers.”

Two weeks ago, the board tasked Gibbs with recalculating the financial and operating plan (FOP) because they had no idea how much was in the general fund.

Some trustees say Superintendent Shelly Walker had been borrowing from different accounts to pay the district’s bills.

Gibbs last week presented her findings to the board.

She said human error negatively impacted the budget’s cash flow by about $600,000.

Tuesday she clarified, saying the district in not looking at more debt as those adjustments have been corrected since then.

She said adjustments are a normal part of reviewing the budget.

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