Saturday, June 27, 2009
Jemez School Chief: 'I'm Heartbroken'
By Charles D. Brunt
Journal Staff Writer
Jemez Mountain School District Superintendent Adan Delgado said Friday the 375-student district is still reeling from the embezzlement of nearly $300,000 from school coffers, but that he will do everything possible to get the money returned.
That's an ambitious goal. State Auditor Hector Balderas said Thursday the total amount believed to have been embezzled by the district's longtime business manager, Kathy Borrego, could be much higher.
Borrego, who had worked for the district for just more than 10 years until being fired June 18, is under investigation by the Rio Arriba County Sheriff's Department. She has not been charged with a crime.
Attempts to reach Borrego have been unsuccessful. The phone number to her Abiquiu home is unlisted.
Delgado said he contacted the State Auditor's Office earlier this month after discovering discrepancies in the district's finances.
Following a preliminary audit, Balderas wrote Delgado a letter earlier this week saying "It appears that Kathy Borrego embezzled $292,300.06 out of these bank accounts" between July 1, 2008, and May 31, 2009.
Because the initial audit covered only two of the district's 11 accounts and 11 months of the current fiscal year — and because Borrego had worked at the district more than 10 years — Balderas said he expects the final tally to climb. His office is continuing a special audit covering the entire time Borrego worked for the district.
"To sum it up, I'm heartbroken over it," Delgado said in a phone interview Friday morning. "I have been such an advocate for trying to get increased funding for our children, especially out in small rural school districts. This whole time that I've been here, we've been scraping to try to get programs improved, get some programs revived that have been killed over the years.
"And to finally learn that a lot of the money that we could have been using to do those things was being pilfered — I mean it's heartbreaking."
The school district, which has three elementary schools, a combination mid- and high school and a charter school, has an operating budget of about $7.8 million for the FY 2009-10 school year, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Education.
Delgado, who has been with the district for 11 years, the past two as superintendent, said many of the district's employees are taking the loss personally.
Delgado said his priority is to recoup the missing funds. "We're looking at every possible angle to find out how we can get some restitution for the funds that we're out," he said.