On Your Side
Nampa School District investigation: Part 1
Tina Jensen reports. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
The Nampa School District is in the red by millions of dollars.
At the center of it all, one name keeps coming up: Josh Jensen.
We received several letters and emails in our newsroom asking why the man responsible for the financial mess is now in charge of the entire district. On Your Side investigated.
The Guy at the Top
"When it boils down to it, it really was some gaps in the system that caused this," said Jensen.
Dr. Josh Jensen is the man responsible for Nampa School District's finances the past few years.
He admits his department didn't have enough checks and balances - and that they made some big budgeting errors.
"Who's ultimately responsible is leadership. It's myself, it’s our superintendent, it's our board of trustees,” said Jensen. “It's our charge to make sure that we have those internal controls. So that's an area that we are really have to focus as we move forward, particularly on the budget side."
Superintendent Gary Larsen resigned in august after the deficit was revealed, and the board named Jensen acting superintendent.
The district's long-time auditing firm, Ripley Doorn, recently released the results of the 2011-2012 audit.
In the audit, they find there's not enough monitoring in the finance department.
They also say no one's vetting nampa schools federal dollars, and that could jeopardize future funding.
Years of Red Flags
Former district accountant Christine Edwards sent a letter to the board last week saying she warned Jensen and school board member Scott Kido of major problems back in 2006.
"The former employee did write a letter, and again, I don't think the contents of that letter contributed to where we are today,” said Jensen. “But there were issues and there have been issues over the years."
As we've been reporting, there's also another Nampa schools accountant who says she was fired after reporting possible fraud. Danielle Sisayaket has filed a whistleblower lawsuit filed against the district.
Jensen says he has no reason to believe there is fraud or embezzlement occuring in the department.
"As I dive in to what got us here, really what it boils down to overspending revenues," he said.
As it turns out, that "overspending" has been going on a long time.
The district ended the last school year about $4 million over budget.
So the board pulled money from the general fund to cut that amount in half. The school year ended with a $2 million deficit.
Nampa schools project this year, they'll end with a more than $4 million deficit. That's after the multi-million dollar, voter-approved levy counted as revenue.
The overspending has been a pattern in the last few years in the Nampa District.
Budget documents show that even in the 2009-2010 school year, the district went over budget by $2 million dollars.
"I guess in really simple terms, we spent more money than we should have [in 2010],” said Jensen. “As I look back and see what led us to this, and I look back to the past couple of years, it is a combination of things that have happened the past couple of years."
The leaders may have the responsibility, but some parents say its the 15,000 students in the Nampa School District who will feel the consequences.
The school district brought in a third-party auditor to examine the district's finances.
So far, they say the auditor will only look at this past year.
Tune in for Part 2 of our investigation Friday night at 9 PM on FOX 9 and at 10 PM on Today's 6.