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ASHLAND The Ashland school district has hired a consultant to help straighten out some of its business office procedures after missing the deadline to submit a working budget to the Kentucky Department of Education.

The consultant, a former school finance director, will assist the district in "getting some things in order that are not where they should be," Superintendent Sean Howard said Thursday.

The consultant also will help draft a report on district finances the Kentucky Board of Education requested at its Wednesday meeting.

The board made the request at the recommendation of state Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass and gave Howard 30 days to submit the report.

The state board also asked Howard for assurances the district could meet another yearly fiscal imperative — to include reserve funding, called a contingency fund, of at least 2% of the total budget.

The 2% figure is mandated by state law.

Howard appeared before the state board at the meeting, which was held virtually, and said district officials are working on making corrections. 

"I'm in no way, shape or form pleased with the situation that we find ourselves in, but we are working as diligently as possible to correct some of the things that need to be corrected," he told the state board.

"I have approached our board to approve hiring, which they did last Monday night, of a financial consultant to come in and help us get our things in working order so that this may be submitted," he said.

The consultant will help fix what Howard called mainly procedural issues that create problems with budgeting.

There is no indication of wrongdoing by anyone in the district, he said.

The problem arose when the district missed the yearly deadline for submitting its working budget, which is the final spending plan for the fiscal year. By state law, the working budget must be submitted by Sept. 30.

Howard said Thursday he cannot be certain the district can keep the required contingency until the budget is straightened out.

The budget bill under which the state is operating would allow the board to approve a contingency lower than 2%, but the board needs the financial report because Ashland has not submitted its budget, Associate Commissioner Robin Kinney said in the meeting.

Asked whether the district is in financial difficulty, Howard said he hopes not, "but we're going to have to look at things very closely."

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