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This just in: OUSD names interim CFO

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 at 2:10 pm in firings, OUSD central office, people.

lglaster.jpgI just got a press release announcing the appointment of Leon Glaster as interim chief financial officer for the district. Glaster, 57, replaces Javetta Robinson, who lost her job earlier this month.

I actually knew Glaster when I covered the San Leandro school district. He had a reputation for finding new sources of revenue, and he balanced the (considerably smaller) budget while I was there.

The press release says he’s been a “top financial executive” in East Palo Alto and San Jose school districts, as well. It also said he came out of a short retirement to work in Oakland.

“I wouldn’t have accepted this challenge if it hadn’t been in Oakland,” he was quoted as saying.

But the district is still searching for a permanent CFO. Glaster was brought on to hold things together in the meantime. Robinson left last week, before she could even close the books.

Read the Web story here.

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  • Turner Dodge

    Ha! Just goes to show you how clueless Kim Statham is. She fired the highest ranking finance person in the district during the most critical financial exercise in the district: closing the books.

    No offense to Leon Glaster but this is Oakland Unified School District. It is NOT San Leandro. It is way bigger and way more complex. You do not just walk in from retirement and expect to fill the shoes that Javetta Robinson wore.

    If Jack O’Connell had any brains, he would get rid of Statham and make Javetta the state administrator. But, then, they don’t care up in Sacramento, do they?

  • http://nun.com Nancy “Nun”

    Can anyone tell me why there has not been an independent audit of the District since going into State Receivership June 3, 2003? I understand the State auditing the State would be a conflict of interest. How do we know if they have cleaned up anything?

  • Katy Murphy

    So I know some people like — or need — a degree of anonymity… But in the interest of promoting civil discussion, I’ve been asking people to use at least their first names, rather than screen names. Full names are preferable, of course, but I understand that not everyone feels comfortable with that.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    I believe OUSD started out just 33 million in debt to the State and is now $100 Million in debt to the State. I don’t have all the details but I do know that somebody somewhere should have lost their job. I don’t see Mrs. Statham firing herself so..

  • Katy Murphy

    I believe the state department of education extended the line of credit from $65 million to $100 million as a cushion of sorts, even though the district didn’t need the extra funds at the time. So the district hasn’t even touched most, if not all of the “extra” available funds. About $30 million is sitting in an account, generating interest, Javetta Robinson told me, and the rest of the $35 million has been repaid.

    The bottom line, as I understand it: As of June 30, the district owed about $86 million to the state, and it could write a check for about $30 million of that today, if the state would allow it.

    The other $22 million the district owes — the grand total was about $108 million last month — is from old debt taken out before 2002.

  • Bena

    Hello.

    I will respond to Nun’s questioning of the OUSD audit process.

    Since the State Administrator took over the operations, Oakland Unified is audited every year by the State Controller’s office. This audit is an independent audit supervised by licensed Certified Public Accountants, the same that you would find at a private firm. There is no conflict of interest. I have worked with the accountants at the State Controller’s Office and have found them to be professional, efficient and thorough.

    The audit is also a very intensive exercise. It has been taking more than 4 months to audit every single facet of operation at the district. A normal independent audit would take no more than two weeks.

    The findings written by the State Controller’s Office are available publicly for all to view on the OUSD website in the Legislative files.

    You asked “how do we know if they have cleaned up anything?” Read the annual audit reports in detail. They are the best source of information for you. And, I am sure they will show that OUSD has greatly improved and streamlined its financial operations. Ask any auditor. They will tell you so.

    I welcome any questions and comments to my blog.

    Kind regards.

  • Jim Mordecai

    The concern I have had on reading these audits is that so far Oakland has not been able to present financial figures that enabled an auditor to “express an opinion” on the financial statements of the district. “Because of the inadequacies in the district’s accounting records the State Controller’s Office was unable to obtain to obtain sufficient, cometent evidential matter supporting the amounts …” This statement was from the 2005 audit. My interpretation is the district has yet to pass an audit that enables the auditor to say he has faith in the district’s books.

    Has there been improvement under Ms. Robinson? Yes. But she was not done putting the correct structure in place. That is why I am very concerned about her firing. The keys I believe are position control and the internal audit function. If both are fuctioning and not circumvented the district has the systems in place to return to financial stability and pass an audit.

    Last year the district outsourced for putting in place position control and this year it was supposed to put in place the internal audit function that included a role for a citizens committee. I don’t know the status of the internal audit function. But, its critical function is is to stop overspending before it gets out of control.

    On last thing on the leaving of Ms. Robinson is that she reported at a previous board meeting that the money the district saves by refinancing bonds at a lower interest rate will be returned to the property owners of Oakland. I wonder if the leaving of Ms. Robinson will also mean that the property owners paying taxes to float these bonds will not receive the rebate?

  • Bena

    Mr. Mordecai:
    I agree Ms. Robinson was not done. But she did a grand job getting the district on the right track. There is still a long way to go but there has been great improvement.

    I heard that people were warning the district about the consequences of irresponisbilty as
    early as 1985. The bankruptcy happened in 2003. It will take a while to dig out of that hole.

    Anyway, let’s hope that they select someone as good as Ms. Robinson. The district deserves at least that.

  • http://nun.com Nancy

    Thanks for the information–however, I looked up under the legislative tab on the OUSD Board website and was unable to locate any recent audits anywhere. I actually analyzed in detail the audit ending June 30, 2004, a year after Randolph Ward took control, and like Jim says, the audit was unable to express an opinion about the financial statements. To me, a student of school finance, this is very serious. Even more disturbing, the above stated deficiencies were deemed material weaknesses in financial reporting, the audit could not express an opinion on whether or not these instances were material misstatements to support a claim for (fraud and/or negligence against anyone as Mr. Jones states).

  • Bena

    Nancy:
    I tried to access the legislative file database but I was unable to. I will send you the link when I can access the site.

    2004 was a bad year. So was 2003 and most years before that. You should be looking at 2005 and 2006 audits by the State Controller’s Office and the FCMAT audits as well. A lot has happened since 2004. The processes that they had in place back then have been replaced or streamlined.

    At any time, Oakland Unified has a thorough audit taking place.

    We all know that 2004 was a bad year. The audit confirms it. You should not base your opinion on 2004. There has been great improvement since then.

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  • Nancy

    Maybe looking at the factual history could lead us to locate someone with an advanced accounting degree and nothing less?