NEW CASTLE —
So let’s review:
A report by the Pennsylvania auditor general’s office found that non-resident employees of the New Castle school district had been sending their children to city schools.
However, these employees were not paying the legally required tuition. The auditor general found $110,664 worth of tuition that wasn’t paid. As a result, the district did not get the tuition from these parents, plus it had to return state subsidy funds that had covered those students.
Furthermore, the districts where these students actually lived did not receive the subsidy either — because they didn’t attend schools there.
Who picks up the tab for all of this? Why the local taxpayers do, of course.
Now, a prudent and ethically upright person might wonder what’s being done about all of this. For instance, how does the district intend to get its money back? Who were these people and how did they get away with it? Was there any collusion? Did district officials look the other way? Are there any plans to press criminal charges in a matter that is difficult to excuse as carelessness or a mistake?
And perhaps most significant: If these are the cases the auditor general’s office knew about, how many others were there?
These are the sorts of questions we’ve had at the New Castle News. And we believe it is our responsibility as the community’s newspaper to find the answers and report them to the public.
As part of this process, the newspaper submitted a right to know request to the school district, asking for assorted information. For instance, we wanted to know who these employees are and who was involved in overseeing residency issues.
On Monday, The News received its answer in a letter from the district dated July 16. Basically, the answer was no, but it was the reason we found most interesting.
We were told that the records we requested do not exist and that the district is not required under the open records law to produce them.
Let’s think about that for a moment. The district is saying it has no record of who these employees are.
Now, if you ran a business and an auditor told you employees were using company services without paying for them, wouldn’t you be just a tiny bit curious about who those employees are?
Wouldn’t you be taking steps to get your money back, and even seeking to have these employees fired or criminally prosecuted?
Not in the New Castle school district. There, the administration is apparently claiming it doesn’t even have a record identifying the people involved.
Needless to say, The News will continue to pursue these records via appeal. But meanwhile, we think city residents ought to be asking their administrators and board members what’s going on here. Curiosity and public accountability seem to be in short supply in the district.
NEW CASTLE —
So let’s review:
- Closer Look
Recycling facility’s plan recommended for approval
The New Castle Planning Commission has recommended approval of a land development plan for a recycling facility. Ben Weitsman and Sons of New Castle plans to construct a facility at 526 S. Jefferson St. to recycle scrap metal.
Jameson to move pediatric unit
Plans are under way to relocate inpatient pediatric care at Jameson Hospital. A press release issued Wednesday by Jameson Health System said pediatric care will continue at the hospital and “will be provided in a safe environment by the same pediatricians, physician specialists and pediatric trained registered nurses and staff.”
County asking to divert state bridge money
Lawrence County has an accumulation of state funds designated for its bridges that it cannot spend. It wants to share those funds for local road repairs, but cannot use the money — more than $600,000 — for that because the funds are restricted by a law enacted in 2007, and can be used only as a county match for county-owned bridge projects.
Commissioners make meeting changes
The Lawrence County commissioners have made a couple of changes to their regular meeting schedule this month.They will meet as usual at 10 a.m. Tuesday in their meeting room in the courthouse.
Our Opinion: Some consumers pay price of changing power suppliers
Choice may be good, but an informed choice is even better. That’s the conclusion we draw from reports here in Lawrence County and elsewhere around Pennsylvania about some residents and businesses receiving electric bills that are substantially higher than normal.
SRU addresses alleged audit discrepancy
As Slippery Rock University officials continue to tackle budget issues that include a potential deficit of up to $10 million, they’re also addressing concerns that a recent audit alleges a $1 million discrepancy.
On the Record: Today’s births and police reports
On the Record is a periodic update of public information coming out of the Lawrence County Government Center. Look inside for the latest births and police reports.
Trout stocking becomes tossing in Volant
While a snowstorm slowly made its way to the area, one annual event signaled the approach of spring for some. A little more than 300 attendees made their way through leftover snow and ice to the banks of Neshannock Creek in Volant for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s annual trout stocking event.
Toomey’s staff to hold local casework event
Tuesday is a casework day in New Castle with the staff of Sen. Pat Toomey. The session, at the office of state Sen. Elder Vogel, 1904 W. State St., will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Coach attacker must get help after paroled
The man who attacked his high school football coach last summer was returned to jail Thursday after hearing terms of his sentence. It includes an order to seek mental health treatment when he is paroled and keeps him under court supervision for 13 years.
- More Closer Look Headlines
- Recycling facility’s plan recommended for approval