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Shorewood stadium spending scrutinized

April 30, 2014

Shorewood — A Shorewood School Board committee is looking into the expenditures made by a fundraising group for stadium renovations in 2007.

At that time, the fundraising group Drive 2 Distinction raised $3.3 million for the new track, athletic field and bleachers at Shorewood High School. The Shorewood School District was originally only supposed to contribute $200,000 to the project — but as the recession pinched the fundraising effort, and change orders brought the construction cost to $4.1 million — district officials ended up paying $800,000 to the contractors, said Shorewood School District spokeswoman Rachel Vesco.

The additional district contribution of $600,000 was brought to light in recent months at the Shorewood School Board's finance and facilities committee, Vesco said.

All of the construction bills have been paid since 2012, but the discrepancies on the books have raised concerns about the taxpayers' unwilling participation in the project. The finance and facilities committee will meet at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, May 1, to discuss how the construction fund can be cleaned up and made whole.

Meanwhile, Shorewood Athletic Director LeVar Ridgeway said he is researching the project's history, and is reaching out to Drive 2 Distinction committee members to recover the district's $600,000 contribution, while also funding a possible next phase of the project, which includes new locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands.

Interim Business Manager Mike Garty also has discovered an inconsistency in the student fees fund, which is to be used for students. This time the inconsistency is a surplus, to the tune of about $200,000. Vesco said Garty is going through expense reports and receipts trying to determine where the funds were coming from. That accounting discrepancy is also being investigated by the finance and facilities committee.

One piece of the confusion is related to the turnover in the business manager position. Garty has been serving on an interim basis since September, when former business manager Mark Boehlke left for a job in a different school district. Garty will now pass along his knowledge to Patrick Miller, who was hired this week as a full-time business manager. Miller is expected to begin in Shorewood on July 1.

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