Shock and dismay greeted Sara Shakespeare on Monday night at the inaugural 2018-19 school year meeting of the various individual school advisory council representatives.
Shakespeare, president of the Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council, relayed that a police investigation was being carried out regarding the alleged theft of approximately $20,000 from the Glenrosa Elementary PAC bank account.
“People were shocked and horrified to hear about it. I could tell by the reaction on their faces. I would guess about half the room was unaware of the media reports out there about what had happened,” Shakespeare said.
She acknowledged to her audience of about 35 PAC volunteers that the theft was a violation of trust within the Glenrosa Elementary PAC community and equally leaves an impact on other school PACS as well.
“I have never heard of anything like this happening in the Central Okanagan that I can recall in my 20 years of involvement with parent advisory councils,” said Shakespeare, a mother of three who lives in West Kelowna.
READ MORE: MONEY MISSING FROM PAC
“It’s happened a couple of times I can think of in the Lower Mainland over that time. It’s so shocking that someone would take such a massive risk. There is always a money trail so there is no hiding. The whole community is going to know who is responsible, and their friends, family and kids in school will all have to deal with the fallout consequences.”
Shakespeare said she has made a point speaking out against a social media “public witch-hunt” or drawing any public attention to the theft suspect.
“We all know who it is and the money is gone. So now we have to move forward and find out how the parents and that school can get that money replaced through various fundraising initiatives.”
Shakespeare said this incident reinforces the need to be vigilant when overseeing the financial contributions and withdrawals from school PAC accounts.
“Typically three people on the executive have signing authority, but I would like to see at least two people always at the bank when money is submitted or withdrawn as a check and balance,” she said.
“That is not always convenient or easy to do because people work and can’t always get to the bank during the day, and it’s unfortunate we even have to even think in that way when we are all working together to raise money to help out our kids at school. ”
She has turned aside suggestions of a district-wide campaign among other PACS to help raise money for the Glenrosa school, saying that would place too much pressure on some schools already challenged to generate funds to help pay for activities outside the school operating budget protocol such as field trips, hot lunches and other school functions.
She suggested each PAC be left to contribute what they can to help and encourage all parents to attend fundraiser events organized for the school, a message she will convey personally at the first meeting of the Glenrosa Elementary PAC on Wednesday night, 6:30 p.m.
Shakespeare is hoping enough people will turn out and volunteer to fill the current vacant positions on the executive.
“I would like to see a fresh new group of people on the executive with some fresh new ideas about the school PAC moves forward from here,” she said.
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