SCF violates law to support work force education program

kbergen@bradenton.comNovember 16, 2012 

BRADENTON -- State College of Florida officials knew they were violating state statute when they used operating funds to curb what amounted to $470,000 in overspending for the college's workforce education program in 2011 and 2012.

And emails in an external audit report from CPA firm Kerkering, Barberio & Co. show that top officials ignored pleas to fix the problem.

Since 2010, the state requires work force education programs, noncredit programs that certify or train participants for various industries, to be solely supported by fees. But before June 2012, school officials transferred auxiliary funds to cover a $262,000 deficit in the 2012 fiscal year alone.

The program also had a $208,000 deficit in 2011, after the training funds of participating companies and other sources of income for the program decreased.

Emails show that SCF vice president for business services, Carol Probstfeld, had tried to meet with the vice president for academic quality and success, Jack Crocker, and former President Lars Hafner about noncompliance issues since March 2011. Crocker became acting president on Oct. 30 when Haf

ner left the college with a $363,000 severance package after months of conflict with the SCF Board of Trustees over his financial decisions.

Increased revenue in the last quarter has allowed the school to cover costs of the work force education program this semester, but the total deficit for the program still exceeds $400,000.

In an email sent in August that neither Hafner or Crocker appear to answer, Probtsfeld warned the school leaders.

"This is a very serious issue!" Almost $400K. Action must be taken soon before we dig an insurmountable deficit for this year!" her email read.

Board Chairman Carlos Beruff said Thursday that what he saw as an apparent unwillingness to address and fix the problem is unacceptable at any institution.

"There was no effort to fix it," Beruff said. "Almost two years we were out of compliance. Even when it was brought to the people whose job it was to fix it."

Katy Bergen, Herald education reporter, can be reached at 941.745-7081.

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