MARIETTA - It is believed former assistant treasurer Barbara Mincks allegedly stole approximately $146,000 from the Marietta City school district over a period of five-and-a-half years, according to Treasurer Matt Reed.
Reed's comments came after Monday's regular board of education meeting, during which a resident questioned the district's procedures prior to the alleged thefts' discovery.
Mincks, a 28-year employee of the district, was charged in October with a third-degree felony count of theft in office after the state auditor's office uncovered evidence of a possible theft. A statement of facts filed by the Marietta Police Department accused her of taking more than $64,000 over two years but also indicated the thefts had been going on longer than that. Authorities have said she could face additional charges.
Reed said Monday the auditor's office had found an apparent starting point for the thefts, about five-and-a-half years ago, and that the total allegedly taken was just over $146,000.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Marietta resident Angela Feathers asked questions about the district's procedures, including who reviewed purchase orders, who prints checks and who balanced bank statements.
"You don't go through and scan the checks," she said to Reed.
"We do now," he replied.
Mincks allegedly re-issued checks to herself in place of long-outstanding checks that had not been cashed. Reed has said the district issues thousands of checks each month and they were not all physically reviewed.
On Monday, Feathers said she spoke to officials in the Zanesville and Upper Arlington school districts who indicated they do review individual checks.
"How many staff do Zanesville and Upper Arlington have?" Reed asked.
"At that point, it doesn't matter, Matt, because it's the taxpayers' money," Feathers said.
Feathers said in her business they track check numbers, but Reed noted that would not have uncovered these thefts, declining to say any more about how the thefts occurred.
"It's much more complicated than missing check numbers," board Vice President Wendy Myers said. "Our whole entire system will, of course, be overhauled."
Feathers emphasized she was not making a personal attack against Reed. The two talked after the meeting and agreed to meet to discuss the matter further.
In other business, the board approved the retirement and rehiring of three longtime employees, among them transportation, buildings and grounds manager Dave Davis.
Davis, 61, has been with the district for 28 years, starting as transportation director and eventually taking on the duties of building and grounds manager as well. As of Jan. 1, he will have a new title of facilities, transportation and safety director, formalizing some of the building safety duties he already oversees.
"You just step in and do what you gotta do to get the job done," he said.
In addition to collecting his pension, Davis will receive an annual salary of $49,900, down from the nearly $54,000 a year he currently receives. He will also pay twice as much of his insurance costs, according to district policy.
Superintendent Harry Fleming said the arrangement allows the district to save money while keeping an experienced employee.
"Dave is a dedicated employee of Marietta City Schools (and) does a lot of great things for this district," he said.
Davis said he wasn't looking to retire but chose to do so to lock in his benefits before changes to the School Employees Retirement System take effect.
"Otherwise, who knows what it'll be?" he said.
While Davis is adding safety to his title, some of his transportation duties will be shifted to Charleton Brown, a district employee for more than 35 years who also will be retiring effective Dec. 31 and rehired as a receiving clerk and bus driver Jan. 1. His current salary was not immediately available Monday, but he will be returning to the first step of the salary scale, earning $13.31 an hour for his clerk duties and $13.61 as a bus driver.
Maintenance worker Rick Dennis, who has been with the district for more than 40 years, will also retire and return to step one on the pay scale as a maintenance specialist, making $14.56 an hour.
The retirements and rehirings were approved by votes of 4-0, with board President Greg Gault absent.
Also approved 4-0 was the purchase of two new school buses for $185,750 from Truck Sales & Service of Marietta.