Audit will focus on Harrisburg City School District

Written by witf Staff Report | Feb 24, 2014 1:00 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The state Auditor General plans to begin an audit of the Harrisburg City School District in March to determine if progress has been made to improve the district’s educational and financial performance.

“The Harrisburg City School District, like several others across the state that serve areas with high poverty rates, has struggled for decades because of a dwindling tax base, low classroom test scores, rising operating costs and overwhelming debt,” Eugene DePasquale said. “I hope our audit will help city, school district and legislative leaders address some of the issues so that students receive a quality education amid these serious challenges. I appreciate the mayor’s enthusiasm and share his hope of seeing that every child succeeds in the classroom.”

The last audit of the district was released in January 2013 and dealt with state reimbursements through the 2007-08 school year. The upcoming audit will examine the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 school years.

DePasquale said the audit will examine what the district is doing right, recommend changes to deficiencies and review if past audit findings have been addressed. The audit may include: academic performance, financial stability, governance, school safety, contracting, data collection and reporting.

Harrisburg City School District’s issues were identified as early as 2000 when it was placed under state’s Education Empowerment Act.

The last audit included seven findings and two observations ranging from a lack of teacher certifications to the loss of $400,811 in basic education funding for failing to provide students with mandatory instructional hours. The district also faced $1.4 million and $517,818 deficits in the athletic and cafeteria funds, respectively.

“An estimated $20 million a year goes to banks and lenders instead of toward the students’ education,” DePasquale said. “That’s a huge burden for taxpayers in one of the poorest school districts in the state.”

School district audits typically assess whether the district resolved issues identified in the most recent audit as well as whether the district received the state subsidies and reimbursements to which it is entitled, accurately managed taxpayer funds, and complied with ethics codes.

The Harrisburg City School District had 8,391 students with 723 teachers, 60 administrators and 209 full-and-part-time support personnel in the 2007-2008 school year. The district received $71.8 million in state funding in the 2007-08 school year. 

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