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School board issues apology to former secretary treasurer

School District #83 is defending its budgeting practices in regards to moving operational surpluses into their capital budget. - Evan Buhler/Observer
School District #83 is defending its budgeting practices in regards to moving operational surpluses into their capital budget.
— image credit: Evan Buhler/Observer

A board statement that appeared unexpectedly on the School District #83 meeting agenda has created speculation of possible legal action to the school district by former secretary-treasurer Sterling Olson.

At Tuesday night's meeting, board chair Bobbi Johnson read a lengthy statement apologizing to Olson and noting details of his career accomplishments.

Johnson made some remarks at the District Parent Advisory Committee meeting held Thursday, April 7 regarding her reliance on information from Olson in regards to the transfer of surplus operational funds into the capital budget to fund the purchase of buildings and equipment.

When asked if School District #83 was contacted by Olson or his legal counsel about Johnson's remarks, superintendent Glenn Borthistle said the board stands behind the statement read by Johnson and would not be making any other comment.

Legal matters are legitimately considered to be in-camera and are discussed by the board in private.

Olson now works as secretary-treasurer for the Vernon school district. He was away at a conference Friday and could not be reached for comment as to whether he contacted legal counsel about his former employer.

The school board statement read aloud by Johnson said, in part, "The intent at last Thursday’s DPAC meeting was not to blame anyone. The Board apologizes to Sterling Olson for any unintended harm coming out of the discussion at the meeting."

Johnson noted the board takes full responsibility for the decisions and actions taken regarding the construction of the new district education centre and the transfer of operating funds to local capital. She went on to state that the annual transfers were clearly identified in the school district financial statements which were audited and approved by the board each year.

"Sterling Olson is one of the longest serving and well respected Secretary Treasurers in the Province of B.C." Johnson read, noting Olson was also the recipient of a professional award for," outstanding contributions in the pursuit of the highest professional standards of ethics, competence and leadership in school district corporate and business administration."

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