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:
Meehan named Neshannock superintendent
Terence P. Meehan is the new superintendent at Neshannock Township School District. Board members voted 5-4 last night to fill the post that will be vacated June 30 with the retirement of Dr. Mary Todora.
Up through the ground comes education cash
Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.
Charter school petitions court with signatures
The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School has petitioned the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas for an appeal.
Schools wait years to receive state’s share of construction bills
More than 200 school building projects are awaiting money from the state — in some cases months and years after they cleared all other hurdles of Pennsylvania’s approval process.
Vo-tech staffers receive Pride and Promise awards
The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s joint operating committee has presented Pride and Promise awards to two employees.
Official sorting out vo-tech finances
Second of two parts: The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center is plowing through a financial quagmire with help from the Laurel School District.
Overtime pay the crux of vo-tech forensic audit
First of two parts: Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s former assistant business manager allegedly logged overtime while on vacation, an audit report shows.
Audit report details alleged discrepancies
Forensic auditors examining Lawrence County’s vocational-technical school funds focused on overtime pay of the assistant business manager.
Audit shows more than overtime issues
A forensic audit of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center finances turned up more than alleged unauthorized overtime pay.
Our Opinion: Recording executive sessions will limit abuse
Whenever governing bodies have public meetings, they often opt to conduct executive sessions.This is perfectly legal under Pennsylvania law — so long as the basic purpose for the executive session is explained to the public and so long as officials refrain from discussing matters in private that are required to be addressed in the open.
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