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

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A monument sign for San Diego Christian College is shown on the school's Santee campus. (Megan Wood/inewsource) A monument sign for San Diego Christian College is shown on the school's Santee campus. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

By Megan Wood | inewsource

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.

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.

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