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Crestline PTO finances go back to HCS

The Hartselle City Schools Board of Education recently authorized the finances of the Crestline Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization to come under the umbrella of the school district.

Chief School Financial Officer Bradley Colburn said the move was made at the request of the PTO.

“We would love to have all our non-public organizations – our PTOs, booster clubs, all that – under our books, but technically they, as an organization, have to request for the school district to handle their finances,” Colburn said. “We can’t dictate how an outside organization handles their finances.

“When they come onto our books, it helps with things like audits and transparency,” Colburn added. “It also helps with internal controls that we have in place.”

Outside organizations are volunteer run, Colburn said, and the move will benefit the organization financially as well.

“It costs them more to be off our books than on them,” he said. “They have to pay for an audit, they have to pay for themselves to be bonded, and they don’t get the benefit of sales tax exemption like we do in the school system.

“We’re good at what we do,” he said.

Hartselle City Schools is required by state law to have a blanket bond, and Colburn and Superintendent Dr. Dee Dee Jones hold bonds as well, which Colburn said serve as insurance against issues.

The move comes as the investigation into the former treasurer of the Crestline PTO has been handed over to the Morgan County District Attorney for prosecution, according to Lt. Alan McDearmond with the Hartselle Police Department.

Abby Wilson, 32, was charged with theft of property in the first degree, a Class B felony, according McDearmond. Wilson was arrested Feb. 5 and stands accused of stealing more than $20,000 from the organization and using the funds for personal gain.

McDearmond said the investigation began Nov. 2 when members of the Crestline PTO reported the theft of money exceeding $2,500. According to an affidavit filed in Morgan County Jan. 26, Olivia Ann Blackburn, the president of the Crestline PTO, reported the theft Dec. 15, 2020.

Some of the charges ended in overdraw fees for a total of $21,640.36.

“Members of the organization noticed there were several charges on the debit card for the account. Wilson was the treasurer of the account and was known to have possession of the card,” he said. “Wilson was confronted by members of the PTO about the charges and admitted to using the card on unauthorized purchases.

“Although an arrest has been made, the investigation is ongoing due to the various locations the card was used.”

Jones said Wilson was not an employee of Hartselle City Schools, as the school’s Parent Teacher Organizations are privately operated by parents and funded by various fundraising events.

Jones said the PTO at Crestline did have a fidelity bond and has recovered the misappropriated funds.

 

 

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