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Report: York City School District improved financial standing

Written by Gary Haber/The York Daily Record | Apr 21, 2017 1:29 AM
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State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans discuss the findings of an audit by DePasquale's office of the School District of the City of York. (Photo: Gary Haber, York Daily Record)

The district is on a firmer financial footing, but needs to improve oversight of credit cards and cell phones, report finds.

(York) -- The York City School District has improved its financial standing significantly in the past three years, an audit released Thursday by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found.

But DePasquale's review of the approximately 5,200-student district also found what it said was lax oversight of employees' credit card usage and use of district cell phones for personal use, DePasquale said at a press conference in York on Thursday. He was joined by state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-95th District.

The audit covered the period from July 2010 through June 2015.

"We take seriously our responsibilities as stewards of taxpayer dollars and welcome any and all opportunities to operate more efficiently and effectively," the district said in a statement Thursday.

District officials said they immediately addressed two of the issues DePasquale's audit identified: a clerical error that resulted in a former employee being over-paid retirement benefits and the way in which the district keeps records of credit card receipts.

Use of district credit cards rose more than four-fold in five years, rising to $235,981 in 2015-2016, up from $58,363 in 2011-2012, DePasquale said.

His office's review of district employees' credit card use revealed a number of issues including multiple employees using the same card, cards still in employees' names even after they left the district and more than $104,000 in credit card charges not all of which the district could provide receipts for.

Receipts were produced for most of the $104,000 demonstrating the money was used for "legitimate purposes," Erin James, a school district spokeswoman, said in an email.

According to the audit, school district officials, for example, provided auditors from DePasquale's office with receipts showing that most of $10,000 in charges to Amazon.com on a district credit card was for "books and other instructional and support materials." And five of the six charges to Walmart.com were for clothes for foster and homeless children, the audit said.

DePasquale also criticized the district's cell phone policy. It allowed employees to use district cell phones for personal use for $25 a month, an amount he said was too low. Some 36 employees opted to pay the $25 a month.

Meanwhile, district officials weren't checking the use of 223 other cell phones issued to employees, to see if workers were using them for personal use, DePasquale said.

On a positive note, DePasquale noted the substantial progress the district has made in recent years in improving its financial standing.

It increased its general fund balance from $2.7 million in 2012-2013 to $17 million in 2014-2015. At the same time, the district reduced its long-term debt from $123 million in 2012-2013 to $107 million in 2014-2015.

"I'm pleased with the good news, and I'm encouraged that the other findings will be handled," Hill-Evans said.

DePasquale's audit also faulted the school district for its inability to provide records documenting all the laptop computers and tablets and other IT equipment purchased during the audit period.

The school district, in its statement, said it has expedited an inventory of its IT equipment originally scheduled for the 2017-2018 school year.

The school district's next audit will be at least a year away to give district officials time to make the changes the audit recommends, DePasquale said.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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