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:
Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold
A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.
Yauger now facing federal charge
With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.
New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty
The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.
Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent
Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.
Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises
Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.
Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City
Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.
Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes
Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.
District mulls building sale options
The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.
Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day
They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.
Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good
Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.
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