Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series looking at El Reno High School athletics and how financial records are kept through the school and booster clubs.
Could what happened in Mustang, happen in El Reno? It has, but not on the same scale. Still, the possibility of embezzlement by high school booster club officials is an issue that causes great heartburn for some school officials.
Former Mustang Touchdown Club president Raymond Craig Davis Jr. has been charged in Canadian County District Court with one count of embezzlement. He allegedly took more than $10,000 from the club over an 18-month period.
While it may not be as bad as what appears to have happened in Mustang, El Reno Public Schools has dealt with some questionable spending and accounting practices from booster clubs supporting their athletics programs.
While some changes were made, Superintendent Craig McVay said athletic and non-athletic booster clubs remain exposed to the possibility of substantial embezzlement.
“We will remain committed to watching it daily,” said McVay.
“This same talk comes up every year. We have training that is mandated and that our coaches must go through.”
McVay said El Reno’s exposure comes because most athletic programs at EHS have two separate accounts.
One of those accounts is the activity fund which is overseen by the school district. The others are private accounts set up by each individual booster club at banks and controlled by that club’s officers.
Other than a required yearly audit, the school district has very little oversight of these private accounts. McVay said the district cannot force a booster club to close its private account.
He said it’s not a good arrangement.
“It’s stupid. They are just asking for trouble. If they want to be protected, they should run all their money through the school. We set up two ways to help them get the money, but we don’t want to be demanding, but it’s much more protection if you use the activity account,” said McVay.
Shannon Ward, the district’s activity clerk, said the constant rotation of parents leading the booster clubs can lead to trouble with accounting and spending issues.
“Every year one of my stress points is how much money is out there which is out of our control. I pull my hair out sometimes,” said Ward.
Not everyone agrees that El Reno booster clubs are exposed to the threat of embezzlement while using outside private accounts.
“Every year I meet with our coaches and I tell them they are in charge of those booster clubs,” said Athletic Director Rodney Haydon. “We hire our coaches to do a good job and we trust them.
“You can always have a president or some officer that does something dumb, but there is also no reason why those coaches should not be looking at those accounts every month.
“It’s on the coach to do that.”
Haydon said he cannot stress enough the importance of coaches to look at the financial statements of private booster clubs each month.
“Coaches are grown adults and if they do what they are supposed to do, then they should be looking over those accounts as well as someone else.
“I trust the people we hire and I don’t think we should strap them financially by saying they have to go get a purchase order on everything they do,” said Haydon.