State

Salida Union cuts man on leave for revenue mistakes

SALIDA — Salida Union School District has fired its supervisor of fiscal services months after placing him on leave.

Charles Garza, 56, was placed on administrative leave in November after a budgeting error overstated the district's revenues by more than $700,000.

Interim Superintendent Twila Tosh announced the board of trustees' decision to fire its fiscal services supervisor at Tuesday's board of education meeting.

She did not release Garza's name.

Garza — who reported to Jim Yardy, assistant superintendent of business services — said Wednesday that the district has made him a scapegoat and he is considering filing a wrongful termination lawsuit.

"How could I have worked there for 16 years and gotten good reviews if I was such a lousy accountant?" he asked.

And in a January response to the district's claims that he was incompetent, inefficient and dishonest, Garza wrote that a consultant the district used in 2008 had strongly praised his work and skill.

The budgeting error was not an isolated incident. Another consultant brought in to help the district with its budget and finances reported at a January board meeting that the district had overstated its revenues by about $2 million for the current budget year.

Consultant Terri Ryland also reported that Stanislaus County Office of Education officials had met with Salida Union School District's business staff 14 times over the past several years, pointing out budgeting and accounting errors.

And an audit report of last year's budget released Tuesday also highlighted problems.

"We do feel though that at times the communication between the Accounting Manager and the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services is not direct and clear enough," auditors with the firm Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. wrote in their report.

"Additionally, it came to our attention that budget and financial projection prepared by the Business Manager was inaccurate and did not reflect known State cuts."

The district has transferred $1.56 million from two reserve accounts to make up for the $2 million overstatement of revenue for the current budget and will use $542,000 from its $1.6 million general fund reserves to balance the budget.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or 578-2316.

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