01STOCK_MILTONSCHOOLS01

MILTON

The Milton School Board might have approved a $10,500 payment to Superintendent Tim Schigur this week, but it also has hired a public accounting firm to investigate the school district’s use of stipends over time.

After a nearly three-hour closed session Monday, the board returned to open session and ratified a $10,500 stipend given to Schigur in November without the approval of the full board.

The payment was approved by a 4-3 vote with board members Brian Kvapil, Mike Pierce and Karen Hall opposed.

The district’s use of stipends has been at the center of an investigation into employee compensation that was launched in February.

A report written by investigating attorney Lori Lubinsky concluded that Schigur, Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz and IT employee Michael Gouvion did nothing wrong when they received stipends totaling $30,500 in November.

However, the report found that school board President Tom Westrick violated board policy in approving the stipend for Schigur without the board’s involvement.

It also found that Kvapil violated state law by releasing documents relating to Schigur, Schuetz and Gouvion to the public without providing required notice and giving those people a chance to augment the records.

After reconvening into open session Monday, the board made of series of announcements about the investigation that addressed lingering questions about what would happen after the investigation.

The second report addresses “supplemental issues ... investigated by a third party” after the investigation, said Shana Lewis, legal counsel for the district.

The district has released no information on what Lubinksy investigated in her second report.

Lewis said the report will be made public after the district provides notices to employees under the open records law.

Lubinksy has recommended that the board hire a financial auditor to look into the district’s use of stipends.

Monday, the board voted unanimously to hire Baker Tilly to conduct a financial audit of stipends over the past nine years, Lewis said. The accounting firm’s costs will be covered by the district’s insurance carrier, she said.

The audit will help the district determine its future use of stipends, Lewis said.

Also Monday, Kvapil apologized to Schigur, Schuetz, Gouvion and the community.

Kvapil said he believed he was acting in the district’s best interest by releasing information he thought showed wrongdoing on the part of Schigur, Schuetz and Westrick. He now believes he made an error, knowing some of the information was inaccurate, he said.

Westrick also reiterated his apology for approving Schigur’s payment, which he had apologized for in February. He said he has refrained from acting as board president at recent meetings, instead letting Vice President Don Vruwink lead the meetings.

The board found the apologies from Westrick and Kvapil to be sufficient penalties for their roles in events leading up to the investigation, Vruwink said.

The district’s policy committee now will work with Lewis and Neola, an organization that guides school districts on best practices, to revise policies that are insufficient and contributed to confusion and miscommunication leading up to the stipend dispute, Lewis said.

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