West Ada beefs up financial controls after questionable purchases at Mountain View High

Mountain View High School
Mountain View High School

West Ada School District is tightening financial controls following an audit of Mountain View High School last month that turned up questionable purchases on principal Aaron Maybon’s school credit card.

Beginning with the 2018 fiscal year, West Ada will audit high schools every year instead of every two years, which is the norm for the district’s 54 schools, said Debbie Arstein, chief financial officer.

The issue is most critical at high schools, which have many more accounts — including those for student activities, vending machines, concessions and student government — from which purchases are made. The high schools are where “purchasing cards” — often called P cards — are used the most, Arstein, said.

Among the other changes the district is making:

▪  Principals’ P-card purchases will be reviewed and signed off by the district regional director who oversees that school. Those approvals had largely been done at the school level.

▪  School principals, administrators and bookkeepers will go through training on completing P Card forms to provide more details on purchases, such as what they are for, who they are for and why the purchase is being made.

West Ada’s financial controls were good before the Mountain View purchases came to light, Arstein said. She calls the Mountain View problems an “anomaly.” Existing audit controls caught the problems at Mountain View, she added.

“We found some things that weren’t as (strong) as we’d like them to be and we’re taking steps to correct those,” said Mary Ann Ranells, district superintendent.

Maybon voluntarily repaid West Ada $1,954.68 in four installments over the past few weeks following the audit that questioned a number of P card charges. Those included $210 for five tickets to a National Football League Baltimore Ravens game in November 2016 for five district employees, admissions to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City and $200 in lodging at a Holiday Inn Express in Salt Lake City at the end of a school trip, district officials say.

Maybon acknowledged he could have done a better job reconciling his P card use every month, but said “there was no ill intent whatsoever.”

Auditors went back to the 2014-15 school year in their financial search. They are not extending their search beyond that year and the matter is not being referred to law enforcement, said Eric Exline, district spokesman.

Maybon, Mountain View’s principal since the school opened in 2003, announced last week that he will retire at the end of the school year, but said his retirement is not linked to the concerns about his P card purchases.