I also want to note that I have documentation from the district about the retirement dinner. The only thing I'm not totally sure about is whether there were any other retirees at the dinner. One interesting note is that none of the current Board was invited according to the invitation list.
"On the issue of oversight, let’s talk about the recent State Audit report. Virtually none of you have said anything even though it was unusual and astonishing that the State Auditor chose to call out the School Board by name for not doing adequate oversight of the Superintendent.
Let’s focus on two items. One is the Superintendent’s usage of her credit card. The issue here for the Auditor was two-fold; she went over her daily limit of $1,000 when she charged $3800 for catering and also, under the District’s procurement card manual, you can’t charge food.
Auditor: If the District intends to include exceptions to the rules, it should revise the procurement card manual rules.
The catering charge was for a retirement dinner for SPS employees. That’s fine but as I recall we have a bad economy and the district is in dire financial straits. And yet that $3800 wasn’t the entire bill; the dinner cost $7k altogether complete with a carving station and salmon and $650 for musical entertainment.
Why would we have a retirement dinner when the organization of retired employees already puts on their own luncheon every year? I suspect it was because this was a dinner for former School Board member, Cheryl Chow.
Why were $100 dinner certificates to the Palisades given out?
The District’s answer to the Auditor on this point was this:
Regarding the non-compliance with dollar limits, there is an exception process in place where the user may call the card administrator and request a higher limit.
The reply to the Auditor makes it sound like this would happen on case-by-case basis as the reply from the District and yet the e-mail indicates it as permanent. Yet there’s an e-mail exchange between the Superintendent’s assistant and an accounting employee asking about whether a previous upping of her limit was still there so she could charge this amount. (And the answer was yes.)
Next, to the finding about the Small Business program in SPS. This program morphed into a $1M a year program with over 40 classes, some of them being taught by SPS staff. And, the district’s own lawyer admitted at a BEX Committee meeting that most of those people who took the classes never even placed a bid for an SPS project.
After the audit came out, we saw the dismissal of the head of the program, Silas Potter.
Then that same lawyer tells a group of people at a Facilities meeting that Mr. Potter is starting his own private company doing the same thing with the same name and somehow got an SPS contract to pay for his offices. And, that the district will pay for it because the district doesn’t want the former head to take them to court.
Why would the district pay an obviously bogus contract? Or the bigger question, why is it the more financially prudent choice to pay off this contract rather than take it to court? What is it that the district doesn’t want aired in court?
Last question, according to the auditor, the money used over the last two years for this program, which is roughly $1.8 M, most of it has to come back to the capital fund from the General Fund. I would like to know where the district is finding over a $1M to move from the General Fund to the capital fund.
You talk about “every dollar going into the classroom” during teacher negotiations but it seems clear the money goes in all directions and there really is NO attempt to rein in spending."