Incoming PTO officer vows no irresponsible behavior

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 14, 2004

[5/14/04]The incoming treasurer of the parent-teacher organization at Vicksburg Intermediate School said Thursday the volunteer group’s money will be handled responsibly.

“There will be no reason to doubt that it’s not handled honestly,” said Jennifer Sluis, who was elected to the office at the PTO meeting in the school’s gym. She and her husband, Dr. Gordon Sluis, will have two children enrolled in the coming year at the school on Dana Road.

PTO board members serve one-year terms.

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The meeting was the first since some PTO officers discovered more than $30,000 missing from the organization’s bank account. In response, minutes reflect, a period of time was set for the money to be restored and the treasurer, Katrina Carpenter, was asked to resign. The money was replaced four days later, and Carpenter quit.

Board members did not file criminal charges because outgoing PTO President Harry Johnson said members thought it was in the best interest of teachers, parents and students to have the money returned.

An audit has been concluded on the organization’s finances, and Johnson said Thursday the report advised preventive measures to ensure income and spending are tracked more closely.

Discussion at the meeting, which was attended by about 30 teachers and parents, focused largely on the board’s actions when the funds were discovered missing, news coverage and suggestions for handling finances in the future.

Elizabeth Bryant is vice president and was elected to serve as president in the coming year.

“We have had a tough spring, but hopefully we can take lessons learned and strengthen our organization,” said Bryant, who has a child at the school this year and will have a fifth-grader there in the coming year. “We have been given some excellent strategies for improving our system, especially in the handling of the organization’s money, and we will work to implement these strategies.

“We have a great board for the upcoming year and will work to restore the confidence of parents, students and teachers.”

She and Johnson were the only board members to attend.

The PTO raises money at the school to benefit students and teachers, and activities this year included planting flowers around the school, purchasing prizes for winners of fund-raisers, T-shirts, proper uniforms for children who do not have them, trophies for the school’s spelling bee and science fair supplies.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said he had been consulted when board members discovered their treasury nearly empty, but indicated the organization was handling the matter itself.

The shortfall was discovered when a vendor reported to the board members it had not been paid. Copies of bank statements were then obtained, showing the money being withdrawn through multiple checks.