Financial status of Williston Basin School District uncertain following business manager resignation

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 8:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 8:31 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - The Williston Basin School District is now without a full-time business manager, leaving into question how they will handle their financials.

On Monday, the Williston Basin School board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Business Manager Sherri Heser. This move is just the latest setback for those wanting exact details on the district’s financials.

“As a stakeholder, it has been a very frustrating year. It’s been a long year waiting and waiting for answers on finances from the board and the district,” said Dawn Hollingsworth, former president of Williams County School District 8.

Heser has faced a lot of scrutiny as the business manager, dealing with financial discrepancies prior to the reorganization that has led to difficulties in budget planning. Expecting to deficit spend during the 2021 school year, she told board members on July 11 that conservative spending and additional revenue led to the district’s general fund increasing from $20 million to $24 million.

However, board members were not satisfied with Heser’s lack of details and explanation on how exactly they ended up in the black. Board president Chris Jundt declined to comment on the accuracy of that report.

“Once we feel confident that the financials are in a good place and accurate, we’ll be sure to communicate those as soon as we can,” said Jundt.

Superintendent Dr. Richard Faidley will serve in the interim. While some have expressed concern that may be too much for one person to handle, he said he has experience handling budgetary aspects.

“I’m extremely confident that we will make sure the district continues to be good stewards of the budget and the finances of the district,” said Faidley.

This district is also facing a state audit, primarily focused on a nearly $2 million discrepancy from the Williston Public School District #1 prior to the merger. Faidley is set to speak with the state auditor Tuesday, but how this affects the timeline of the audit remains to be seen.

Heser is the third official to resign since the district reorganized. Former superintendent Dr. Jeff Thake and former board member Thomas Kalil both resigned in December.

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