Removal Of School Budget Director [Executive Ben Danner]

Overton County Executive Ben Danner said he reached out to the former director of schools about financial practices inside the system.

The State Comptroller’s Office found 10 findings involving the school system in its just-released audit.

Danner said he spoke to Mark Winningham last year expressing concern over the former School Budget Director Heather Melton.

“Last year they had several findings and the budget director blamed them on the pay role people, but the budget director was actually the payroll person, so that person was actually the one doing what caused them to have audit findings and told the county commission it was someone else’s fault when it was clearly their fault.”

Danner said after that, he recommended to Winningham to remove Melton from the position. Danner said the former school director did not agree and made no changes to the position.

“Every year they’ve had findings. Every year since the former director of schools was in there and the budget director they’ve had findings and then the findings became more and more and more,” Danner said.

The school system was sited on inaccurate financial statements, accounting deficiencies, expenditures exceeding budgeted appropriations, an improperly issued loan and a laptop and several flash drives missing from the central office. Danner said the county audit committee will meet with the school board next month to look at the findings.

“This is the former director of schools,” Danner said. “It’s completely under his administration. Every bit of this is under that and he was aware of that. The county made suggestions, and they didn’t follow through.”

Once Winningham was voted out by the school board, Danner said he meet with Interim Director Donnie Holman about the issue. Danner said Holman removed Melton from the position after the discussion.

“It’s not at all on the current director of schools, because he did what should have been done several years ago to correct these problems,” Danner said. “It’s just this one year all the audit findings came all at once cause the director of the schools and the budget director for the school weren’t doing their job.”