Temple Mill Primary School could only receive fraction of money stolen by crooked bursar Sandra Ross after council decision
Sandra Ross, jailed for stealing £212K from a Strood school
A school which had more than £200,000 stolen by a former employee could only receive a fraction of the money back.
Sandra Ross took £212,000 over a five year period from Temple Mill Primary School in Cliffe Road, Strood.
She was sentenced to three years in prison towards the end of last year, and before her sentencing Ross returned £41,656.
Ross was ordered to pay back the remaining £170,999 within six months, and the council received the money in May.
What the authority wanted to do with this cash caused anger among staff and parents.
The council's audit committee voted against returning the money to the school and instead wanted it used on training to prevent a similar theft.
It was asked to look at the issue again, and met on Wednesday to consider what to do.
It again voted against giving the money back, and instead decided to split the money into four chunks.
Temple Mill Primary School headteacher Jane Bright
A total of £14,000 will be given to the school to put into its voluntary fund, around £25,000 will be set aside for the school to bid for improvements such as IT equipment and £40,000 will be spent setting up a one-year school auditing post within the council.
The remainder will be spent on the committee’s original preferred option, training to prevent a re-occurrence.
The school’s head teacher Jane Bright made a passionate plea for the money to be returned to them, claiming children had missed out things like books and IT equipment.
She said: “I've questioned many, many, many times what I could have done, how did I not spot it?”
Representatives of the school admitted there were things they had done wrong.
Mrs Bright said she had signed cheques presented to her by Ross and the fraudster’s claim that she had closed the school’s voluntary account was accepted.
"I’ve already stated there were things I shouldn't have done. This person was presenting us with the information we were asking for.
"Behind that was a whole new set of things that were going on."
Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con), who is in charge of finance, described the arrangement as a "worthy compromise".
Labour councillor Glynn Griffiths was not happy, comparing it to "finding a wallet, taking half the money and expecting the person to be happy when you give it back".
The council’s Conservative cabinet will now vote on the recommendation next month.
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