Schools budget director Wiles resigns

Friday, May 21, 2010

An essential department's director resigned this week at the Marshall County Schools Central Office, thereby foreshadowing far-reaching challenges for the Board of Education.

Budget Director Janet Wiles submitted a letter of resignation to Schools Director Roy Dukes on Tuesday, and e-mailed a copy to school board members. Wiles' resignation follows the Board's approval of Dukes' organizational chart on Monday.

"The recent changes in the organizational chart leave me no choice," Wiles wrote. "The elimination of the federal projects bookkeeper position creates a situation where the internal controls currently in place will be compromised."

In a telephone interview Wiles explained, "You don't want one person to handle all parts of a transaction," to avoid the appearance of impropriety, as well as to minimize errors. "That's the way it is in all organizations," she said.

Wiles was not consulted when Dukes drafted his central office reorganization chart, she said. The school board adopted the chart on a split vote.

Wiles' last day at work will be May 28. That leaves the school board without her experience and financial guidance as county leaders work to finalize next year's budget.

"It puts us behind the eight ball," School Board Chairman Mike Keny admitted. "It's going to make it a tougher job getting the budget together. We've got our work cut out for us."

County Commission Chairman Billy Spivey agreed, saying, "It's unfortunate, right in the middle of budget time, to lose your budget director.

"She's done a marvelous job," Spivey said. "She will be sorely missed."

Board members were saddened by Wiles' decision, but some were not surprised.

"Having the finance department reduced by one and a half positions within 45 days of fiscal year-end and in the middle of a severe budget crisis clearly left her feeling that she had no choice," Barbara Kennedy said.

Kristen Gold chairs the School Board Budget Committee and said, "I understand her decision. Changes implemented by the new organization chart ... are cause for concern."

Kennedy and Gold were two of the four board members who voted against approval of Dukes' organizational chart.

Wiles' resignation took School Board member Dee Dee Owens by surprise, Owens said.

"I hate that she's going to leave," she said. "I think that she's an asset; she will be missed."

Gold amplified that sentiment, writing, "Mrs. Wiles' dedication to the improvement and success of the system along with her knowledge in all financial areas of the system have been an enormous asset to the board and will missed."

Keny looked toward the future.

"It's the director's call who he chooses to bring in" to succeed Wiles, Keny said. "As a school system we'll have to move forward."

Craig Michael also looked to the future with a prepared statement.

"This is a very challenging time for our school system for a variety of reasons," Michael said. "Mr. Dukes has stated that people have to pull together and learn to do more with less. We need people who are committed to helping Marshall County become a better school system. If Mrs. Wiles does not want to be part of this process, then she made the right decision to leave and I wish her the very best."