Brevard Public Schools May Contract With Armored Car Service To Protect School Cash

By  //  July 27, 2017

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will centralize accounting and prevent theft

Brevard Public Schools may contract with an armored car service to pick up school deposits as part of a proposal to centralize accounting and prevent theft.

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Brevard Public Schools may contract with an armored car service to pick up school deposits as part of a proposal to centralize accounting and prevent theft.

The plan comes in reaction to recent criminal cases involving school bookkeepers who have been trusted for years to handle cash and drive deposits to Space Coast banks.

A former bookkeeper from Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay was sentenced June 30 to seven years in prison for embezzling about $108,000 accounts meant for field trips, school supplies and extracurricular activities.

A bookkeeper at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne was arrested in March for allegedly stealing $120,000 from student accounts.

“The process weaknesses are everywhere,” Superintendent Desmond Blackburn told school board members during a workshop July 27.

“You’ve got to spend to protect. We’re talking about dollars and cents that our kids earned washing cars and things.”

BPS Superintendent Desmond Blackburn Details Moves To Deter, Prevent Future Financial BreachesRelated Story:
BPS Superintendent Desmond Blackburn Details Moves To Deter, Prevent Future Financial Breaches

Hiring an armored-vehicle service could cost $175,000 per year to serve Brevard’s 82 schools, according to estimates obtained by BPS Chief Financial Officer Pennie Zuercher.

“Our drivers would be discreet, in unmarked white vans or trucks,” Zuercher said.

“They would pick up school deposits three times per week, with cash kept in school safes in the meantime. At school headquarters in Viera, meanwhile, a central accounting and auditing team would depend on those timely deposits to accurately monitor school funds.

BPS would shed other types of costs, Zuercher said:

• $51,503 a year in mileage reimbursement to bookkeepers who drive to banks
• $334,044 per year in bookkeeper time spent making deposits. That time could be redirected to other school needs.

Neighboring school districts in Orange, Volusia and Seminole counties already employ such services.

Funding for the plan must be approved by the school board later this year as part of the 2017-2018 operating budget.

School Board Chairwoman Misty Belford of Titusville said leaders at schools have grown increasingly wary of the risk of theft on campus and the burden of oversight.

“It’s a major concern for our secondary principals,” Belford said.

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