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Daily Churn: Only 2 overspent

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New spending totals released Tuesday for Denver Public Schools board members from the past fiscal year show that only two of the seven overspent their $5,000 limits.

Original figures released by the district in response to an open records request by Education News Colorado showed that four of the board members exceeded their budgets. However, recalculations for the account of at-large board member Mary Seawell on Thursday indicated that she actually finished $85.45 below the $5,000 individual spending cap.

Now, a new set of numbers released by the district show Seawell to be even further under the cap – by $369.35 – and board president Nate Easley is also below the limit.

Several factors contributed to adjusting the board members’ final spending reports for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

First, district officials discovered some credit card charges from the prior fiscal year had been carried over, and misapplied to the subsequent fiscal year. Second, board members are assessed a 3 percent surcharge for any expenses that they submit through petty cash. But, since those charge were not communicated to board members, they have now been removed.

It was Easley, originally believing himself to be $843 over budget, who brought board member overspending to light by announcing at the Aug. 18 board meeting that he had written a check to the district for the excess amount he believed himself to have spent. He wrote a new check when district recalculations showed him only $462.84 over.

Now, spending data released to board members on Friday shows Easley to be $202.17 under budget.

“I’m thrilled,” said Easley. “I’ve managed million-dollar budgets, and never gone over, ever, so to go over $5,000 was frustrating. But, I should have been more aggressive earlier on, in the tracking of these accounts.”

A slight adjustment to board member Andrea Merida’s bottom line saw her number drop, but still left her far over the spending limit. Merida’s new figure is $12,427.87, down slightly from her prior number of $12,637.72.

Merida, who represents District 2 (southwest Denver) has said she will repay the district for her spending in excess of $5,000, as has District 5 (northwest Denver) representative Arturo Jimenez, who spent $6,623.95, according to the new numbers.

District spokesman Mike Vaughn believes the latest figures released are final.

“I didn’t expect them to change once,” Vaughn said. “So, no, I don’t think we expect them to change” again.

New 2010-11 board member spending totals

Member 2010-11 Total Over/Under $5,000

Nate Easley $4,797.83 <$202.17>

Bruce Hoyt $777.88 <$4,222.12>

Arturo Jimenez $6,153.29 $1,153.29

Jeannie Kaplan $1,863.12 <$3,136.88>

Andrea Merida $12,427.87 $7,427.87

Theresa Pena $3,879.66 <$1,120.34>

Mary Seawell $4,630.65 <$369.35>

Source: DPS Communications office.

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