The Marshall County Board of Education took preventative measures against loss of funds due to deception and fraud in the wake of a Kentucky school district losing nearly $4 million.
The board annually reviews and renews its insurance coverage and during a recent meeting accepted Treasurer Jill Monroe's recommendation to increase the deception and fraud coverage to $1 million. Monroe mentioned the Scott County School District, which was recently featured in headlines as the victim of a multi-million dollar online scam.
Last month, Scott County School District discovered it had lost $3.7 million as a result of an online scam. According to Scott County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub, a complaint of non-payment from an unidentified vendor revealed the district had fallen victim to a fraudulent email purporting as the vendor. By the time the FBI investigated, Hub reported the fraudsters no longer had access to the district's bank account and said there was no data breach involving personnel information. Hub also reported the district had purchased insurance which was expected to help in the case.
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett said the finance office with Marshall County Schools has received fraudulent emails that appear as if he is the sender, asking for financial information. Luckily, he said, even though the emails look legitimate, the employees in the finance department have always double-checked with him before responding because "it didn't look like something [he] would send."
"We had some deception and fraud coverage but it was not up to the standard it needs to be," he explained. "We're just getting a little extra protection."
In other business:
• The board approved the sale of a tract of land in Calvert City, which is being purchased by the city for $80,000. Facilities/Transportation Director Jeff Stokes said the sale price is the appraised value because the city isn't able to pay more than the appraised price and the school isn't able to accept less. He also noted the Kentucky Department of Education has approved the sale. Marty Johnson, attorney for the board, said the contract had also been approved by the city and it should take approximately 30 days to finalize the process. The board declared the property as surplus in February.
Lovett said the district purchased the property several years ago when it became available for a good price, believing it might use it to expand. But if the district were going to undertake new construction, he said it would likely involve combining Sharpe with Calvert and wouldn't be constructed at this location, so it was best to sell the property.
• During the awards ceremony prior to the board meeting, Jonathan Elementary Principal Annessa Roberts awarded the posthumous honor of Teacher of the Year to Laura Howell, who died earlier this year. She said Howell "was a teacher who was dedicated to instilling a love of reading in her students. She valued the importance of reading aloud to them not just to model fluent reading, but to show her love of the written word and the adventures it could take you on. Laura also often gave a voice to those that didn't always have one. Many, many times she would go to battle for those children."
She said Howell's students recalled her as consistently calm and a helper for them, that her favorite author was Patricia Polacco, that she loved to cook, said they loved to listen to her read and that she pushed them to be better readers and their best selves. "Laura Howell made a difference. She touched the lives of many students, parents and colleagues. Jonathan Elementary was blessed to have her," Roberts said. Roberts also recognized Karen O'Brien, Howell's co-teacher, with a Teacher of the Year award and acknowledged her great strength in helping the children navigate the grief in the loss of their beloved teacher and friend.