State Auditor to continue investigation into Williston Schools’ finances

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:32 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) -The investigation into the Williston Basin School District #7 finances is not over. With an audit of the merger completed, the state auditor’s office will soon set their sights on the year after.

A spokesperson with the Auditor’s Office has confirmed that they will be looking at the finances of the Williston Basin School District during the 2021-22 school year. This comes following the investigation into Williston Public Schools District #1 during the 2020-21 school year, which resulted in 21 areas of concern.

Petitioners who were successful in getting the state auditor to look at the Williston School District’s finances say this is just the beginning in uncovering what they believe the school board is hiding from the public.

“The people asked for everything. We didn’t ask for just for financials. We asked for everything,” said Dawn Hollingsworth, lead petitioner.

The first petition audit took the auditor’s office about 1,000 hours and cost the school district more than $130,000 to complete. While Superintendent Richard Faidley agreed that the audit was necessary to correct the district’s issues, he argued that the cost of these audits would be better spent on improving the district.

“I just don’t happen to agree that we should spend that kind of money chasing something from the past when we have so many issues to deal with in the future,” said Faidley.

In his report, Gallion said he could not prove any criminal behavior in his findings. Hollingsworth said she believes they will find some soon enough while Faidley said he’s doubtful due to the long hours already put in during the first audit.

Faidley admits that he expects more areas of concern to come out of the next audit, but says they have made a corrective action plan that will make sure these mistakes aren’t repeated.

Sherri Heser served as business manager while Jeff Thake and Lori Olson served as superintendents during the 2021-22 school year. Heser and Thake resigned in 2022 while Olson announced her resignation earlier this month.