Juneau School District Administrative Services Director Cassee Olin (center) appears with Karen Tarver (right), an auditor with Elgee Rehfeld, to discuss an audit of the Juneau School District’s previous fiscal year with the Juneau Board of Education on Nov. 14. Olin resigned from the district as of Dec. 1. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Juneau School District Administrative Services Director Cassee Olin (center) appears with Karen Tarver (right), an auditor with Elgee Rehfeld, to discuss an audit of the Juneau School District’s previous fiscal year with the Juneau Board of Education on Nov. 14. Olin resigned from the district as of Dec. 1. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

School district seeks quick temporary help with budget after administrative services director quits

Cassee Olin resigns as district faces multimillion dollar deficit, audit that found flaws.

The Juneau Board of Education on Friday approved hiring temporary help quickly for its upcoming budget process following the resignation of its administrative services director weeks after an audit revealed faulty practices and a large deficit.

Cassee Olin resigned as administrative services director on Dec. 1. On Friday the board authorized Superintendent Frank Hauser to spend up to $50,000 on a contract employee for “FY 2024 budget maintenance and FY 2025 budget development.”

Will Muldoon, chair of the board’s finance committee, said in an interview after the meeting the district is also looking to hire a new administrative services director.

“If we are able to successfully land people for each of those they would work in complement to each other under the direction of the superintendent,” he said.

Muldoon declined to discuss the reason for Olin’s departure since “we don’t speak on personnel matters.” Olin could not be immediately reached for comment.

[School district gets $2.8M of bad news due to low enrollment and audit, but also $2.3M of good news]

Muldoon said the hope is to hire the contract employee as quickly as possible after a finance committee meeting scheduled for Dec. 5 was canceled due to Olin’s resignation, with the next meeting tentatively scheduled for Jan. 18.

“That was to allow some time for the winning applicant to work with me and the superintendent so we all have a shared fluency and understanding of where we are, what our expectations are, and then being able to work alongside each other to begin that work,” he said.

Hauser told the board members during Friday’s meeting he has already reached out to potential candidates for the contract position, and “if the board does pass this one of the things that I’ll be doing is immediately working on reviewing the proposals and selecting a contractor, and then trying to bring them to Juneau.”

“We do have a proposal from a contractor that has experience with…our new software that we are using,” he said. “In addition, (I’m) looking for that experience of somebody that has and worked in — obviously — education, finance and potentially been a business manager beforehand for a school district.”

The district has already started work on a budget for the next fiscal year that Muldoon said the board hopes to have in final form by mid-March and must be submitted to the city by April 1. He said there is no set length on the temporary contract, but expects it will cover much or all of that cycle.

The independent third-party audit presented to the board earlier this fall cited a nearly $2 million accumulated deficit and faults such as failing to bill properly for Medicaid services. In addition to the audit, lower-than-expected enrollment is resulting in nearly another $1 million in lost revenue and Muldoon said the total deficit facing the district during the coming year could reach $7 million due to the lapse of one-time state and COVID-19 funding.

The district’s budget for the current year is about $95 million.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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