San Diego Christian College replaces CFO amid questions about school’s finances
The San Diego Christian College campus in Santee. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

San Diego Christian College replaces CFO amid questions about school’s finances

Following an inewsource investigation into the finances of San Diego Christian College, a school official confirmed Monday that Steve Chaney is no longer its chief financial officer.

Colleges — including private, nonprofit schools like San Diego Christian — benefit from state and federal financial aid and have an obligation to be transparent with the public about their finances.

Kelly Buchanan, executive assistant to the college’s president, said Tim Savaloja is the interim chief financial officer. He also is vice chairman of the college’s board of trustees.

Buchanan declined to comment on why the change was made.

The original inewsource story, published on Oct. 30, found the private, nonprofit Christian college in Santee couldn’t account for more than $20 million in expenses that are required to be detailed in attachments to its public tax returns.

Those expenses were incurred from fiscal 2012 to 2014 while Chaney was the college’s chief financial officer and his accounting company, Chaney and Associates, handled the college’s finances, including its accounts payable, payroll and tax preparation.

Chaney did not return phone calls seeking comment about no longer being an officer at the college. It is unknown whether his business still has a contract for accounting services at the school.

Savaloja is vice president of financial services for the Metropolitan Alliance of Connected Communities, an administrative service provider for nonprofits based in Minneapolis. Previously, he was the chief financial officer and president of Crown College, a private Christian college in Minnesota. He did not return calls Monday about his new position.

inewsource has made multiple requests to San Diego Christian officials to explain the $20 million in expenses that Chaney reported as “other” in tax returns, but no documentation has been provided.

Chaney told inewsource in September he couldn’t remember what happened to the missing documents in 2012 and 2013. As for the 2014 documentation, he said a “system glitch” prevented its upload to the Internal Revenue Service. He said he would provide the information to inewsource but never did.

On Nov. 2, the college’s attorney, Tracy Warren, sent inewsource a letter demanding the retraction of two stories about San Diego Christian’s finances, saying they were “riddled with inaccuracies,” but no details were provided about any errors.

Warren did not respond Monday to requests for comment.

Related:


Christian college can’t explain $20 million in expenses; agency cites ‘very sketchy’ budget
San Diego Christian College, a nearly 50-year-old nonprofit school in Santee, can’t account for more than $20 million in expenses that are supposed to be detailed on its public tax returns.

Christian college claims inaccuracies in story but is mum on details
A college official emailed parents and students alleging our investigation about questionable expenses “presents information regarding SDC that is inaccurate.” However, despite requests, the college would not say what was wrong with the story.

San Diego Christian College retraction demand and our response
San Diego Christian College’s outside counsel sent inewsource a letter demanding an immediate retraction of our two stories about the college.

Still no word from San Diego Christian College; inewsource responds to allegations anyway
The college shared a list of alleged inaccuracies in our story with parents, students and alumni. Here's our response.
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About Megan Wood:

Megan Wood

Megan Wood is a multimedia journalist for inewsource. To contact her with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email meganwood@inewsource.org.