Steel Valley may vote on whether to pay for foundation audit

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The Steel Valley school board may vote tonight on whether to pay $1,950 for an audit that was done of the Steel Valley Foundation for Education.

The board on Monday again discussed what to do about the bill that the foundation, which is a separate entity from the district, has not paid to the district's auditors.

Without that payment, Maher Duessel, the accounting firm that does the school district’s audits, will not release the district's 2012-13 audit, auditor Betsy Krisher of Maher Duessel told the board in January. 

And without its audit, the district can't continue to receive federal funds, school Director Sue Ballas said at that time. 

“We need our audits. We’re between a rock and a hard place,” district solicitor Donald Fetzko said Monday.

Maher Duessel did an audit on the finances of the Steel Valley Foundation for Education as part of the district’s larger audit. 

The 10-year-old education foundation, founded with an  $8.7 million grant from Homestead native and Intuit board chairman Bill Campbell, lost its tax-exempt status on May 15, 2010. At the time, the Internal Revenue Service said the tax-exempt status was withdrawn because the foundation hadn't filed an annual Form 990 in three years. In its 10 years, the foundation contributed funding to build six classrooms at one school and a gymnasium at another. 

In January, superintendent Ed Wehrer told the board in a written update that the foundation's president, former school board member Joe Ducar, said the foundation was out of money and would not be able to pay the remainder of the auditor's bill, which is about half of what it had been charged.

“I think we should pay Maher Duessel what [Ms. Krisher] is owed,” school board President Donna Kiefer said Monday.

School Director Mike Terrick objected to the district paying an auditing bill for the foundation.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Wehrer said the board would vote on the matter tonight.

In other discussion, former school board president Beth Cannon said the district is paying too much money to security guards at athletic events.

“I don’t think we should be paying security guards all this money, when we have Munhall [police] here, and we have two administrators here for crowd control,” she said.

Mrs. Cannon said she has looked around during basketball games, and thought, “This is more secure than the county jail.”

Athletic director Shawn McAllister said if the district is going to wand people entering games and search purses, enough security guards must be present to prevent long lines from forming at the entrance.

What to do about the aging high school swimming pool also was discussed.

Mr. Wehrer said now that the competitive swimming season is over, the pool should be closed and evaluated to see how much money it would take to restore it to  “very good working order.”

If the cost to repair the pool is too high, the district might need to consider another use for that space, he said.

Pool leaks have created high water bills, said Dennis Keesecker, director of facilities.

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:

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