Lake Ridge official quits, financial probe begins
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 April 5, 2013 8:56PM
Updated: May 7, 2013 6:11AM
GARY — Lake Ridge Schools business manager James W. Huddleston resigned abruptly Thursday because of personal financial issues and school officials said Friday an immediate review of internal school data would begin.
His resignation comes after the Lake Ridge School Board voted March 25 to close Grissom Elementary School because of a cited $1.7 million budget shortfall.
A fax sent from the district said, “Given the current projections and reports, Education Services Corp. will begin an immediate review of internal data and further assist in this process.”
The company also will prepare the district’s 2013-14 budget.
The fax, sent from Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley’s office, said school officials met with Huddleston on Thursday morning and reviewed pending obligations that he was handling.
Sources said Huddleston, who has served as business manager since 2007, was escorted from the building and the lock on his office door was changed. Johnson-Shirley and school board members couldn’t be reached for comment.
In February, Huddleston told the School Board the district would run in the red by October if it didn’t reduce costs. “If we don’t make the cuts now, we won’t be able to make payroll and pay our debt service” he told the board.
The move to close Grissom, the lone school in Black Oak, angered and saddened parents and teachers. Board member Annette Wells, who lives in Black Oak, cast the lone vote against closing Grissom as the measure passed 4-1.