ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- As students returned to class this week in the Adams 12 Five Star School District, we're learning about big changes in the way the district spends taxpayer money and what it tells the public about its budget.
The changes coming just months after a FOX31 Denver investigation revealed questionable accounting practices in the state’s fifth-largest school district.
Our story earlier this year got the attention of parents and school board members who demanded action from district leaders, including the superintendent.
Critics say the district was padding the budget with inflated expenses while it was cutting educational programs.
Now, Adams 12 is making changes that are supposed to keep the public better-informed about how it spends their money.
The sweeping changes to Adams 12’s accounting procedures follow revelations by a whistleblower who once worked for the school district.
"It means exactly what I was saying all along that the budget was inflated with unsubstantiated expenses," says former Adams 12 internal auditor Gina Holub.
She first questioned the flawed accounting process and the district's Chief Financial Officer Shelly Becker.
Holub claimed then the district's flawed budget process negatively affected every student in one of the state's poorest school districts.
"If there is excess fund balance you as a taxpayer should have a say in how that money is spent whether it’s in bus service or you want athletics but you should have a say and you should know what monies there are," she says.
The district fired Holub after she claimed the numbers didn't add up. She accused the district of inflating expenses, hoarding that money, all while the district cut teachers, slashed student programs and increased student fees.
"It’s my career and it’s affected my career. And, my reputation and it’s not just affecting me it’s affecting my family and my kids," Holub says.
Though the district refused to answer specific questions, in our most recent inquiry the district issued the carefully worded statement claiming they planned to change the budget process years earlier.
They say, "Starting in the spring of 2012, the district began the process of transitioning to a line-item budgeting system for 2013-2014 in which budget items are broken down into greater detail. For example, rather than looking at benefits from a high level, this more refined budget process breaks them down into the costs of specific parts such as medical insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, etc. This process improvement work is ongoing."
"It makes me happy that they’re actually having to admit but it’s still a tough situation." Gina Holub says the change at the district affirms what she's always known ... the district lied about its numbers. Her job is gone but she hopes she can still save her reputation.
She's asked, "Does this help at all? Yes it does help. Some," she says tearfully.
Adams 12 Investigation Related Links
- Is a Local School District Hiding Millions?
- Superintendent accused of cashing in at taxpayers' expense
- Adams 12 Teachers Speak Out
- Audio taped conversations of Adams 12 Schools Officials
- Adams 12 Legal Filings