IPS terminates CFO after disagreement over budget

Indianapolis Public Schools has fired its chief financial officer for “unsatisfactory work performance” one week after Superintendent Lewis Ferebee publicly disagreed with a financial assessment that said the district had a $30 million budget deficit.

Debra Hineline, CFO of the district for the past five years, was terminated Tuesday by the school board along with eight other employees Ferebee recommended for termination.

On March 11, Ferebee unveiled the results of his analysis of IPS finances by saying a previously determined $30 million structural budget deficit wasn’t real, but was instead the result of a “budgeting tactic” used by his predecessors.

According to Ferebee’s analysis, the district had 2013 budget surplus of $8.4 million.

“IPS has over-projected expenses to maintain a functional cash balance,” IPS officials said in a statement released after last week’s board meeting. “The district has operated under a budgeted deficit, rather than an actual deficit.”

Ferebee’s analysis found that the 2013 budget projected $244 million in funding but $274.4 million in expenses, creating a deficit of $30.4 million.

But some of those expenses were for projects that never actually occurred, such as the expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, the creation of a new science school and the hiring of new employees.

The system's actual 2013 expenses totaled $237.8 million, while its revenue totaled $246.2 million.

IPS announced it had a $30 million structural deficit about a year ago, when the district was being led by interim superintendent Peggy Hinckley.

Hineline previously worked for Washington Township Schools and the Indiana Department of Education, where she was state finance director.

 
 

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