State Audit Inspection On School District Expenditures For FY2016 Is Ridiculous!

By Delaware state code, we should be seeing this report every single year.  In any event, Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner released the Fiscal Year 2016 report today.  Yes, a year and a half after that fiscal year ended.  And guess what the overall finding was?  We don’t know what districts are spending cause everyone codes their expenses differently in the state financial system.  And this report states the state ALLOWS the districts to do this.  They have discretion.  What a crock of…

In an attempt to categorize spending items as instructional or non-instructional for further analysis, the Office of Auditor of Accounts (AOA) extracted all voucher and PCard expenditures made from State and local funds by each of the 19 school districts.  However, the State’s financial system has over 11,000 active appropriations and over 1,500 active account codes available for use.  As a result, we found inconsistencies in expenditure coding across the 19 school districts that prevented us from performing an in-depth analysis of expenditures.

They named nine areas that are either prohibited by accounting rules or were not used for a functional educational purpose.  Some of these are sports lottery, florists, online games, and table games.  Are you kidding me?  And the report found over $98,000 was used for in-state meals.  I can picture it now, Joe Superintendent says to himself “I feel like going to Friendly’s for lunch today”.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  The inspection found that many of these “inconsistencies” were due to human error.  Uh-huh.  Yes, I get that humans make errors.  But how do you miscode sticky buns?

When it comes to food, it looks like Cape Henlopen and Lake Forest looooove to eat out! The report talks about WaWa purchases. I’m sorry, but since when is fast food or deli considered an in-state food purchase? Do what the rest of us do and pay from your own damn wallet. I don’t pay taxes so you can celebrate Hoagiefest all year long!

But this little bit about Lake Forest…wow!

In December 2015, the Lake Forest School District held a holiday dinner for board members, administrators, and their spouses at The Rookery Golf Club in Milford, Delaware, totaling $1,899.30. (This amount is included in the in-State meal transactions described above in the “Employee Recognition purposes” category since administrators were recognized.) A handwritten note on the invoice stated it was approved at a special board meeting in executive session on October 14, 2015.

Are you friggin’ kidding me? Sounds like higher-ups are feasting on the fatted calf called the Delaware accounting system. And with no oversight whatsoever, this is only scratching the iceberg.

And how in the name of God can you have in-state lodging for any school district in this state? You can drive up and down the state in less than two hours. And it looks like Red Clay was the biggest offender.

Not one look into all the vendors school districts use. Not one peak into the millions of dollars going to vendors who write reports and supply schools with cash-in-the-trash ideas. Not one bit. Disgusting. It’s no wonder none of the school districts want to consolidate. God forbid someone actually get a good hard look into how they spend money!

The best part about all this?  They could have read my blog posts in July and August of 2016 to do this report.  What the hell took them a year and a half to do a report that anyone with an excel file could figure out in three days? It is time for our elected legislators to get the hell off their collective asses and pass some laws indicating school districts and charter schools can NO LONGER use discretion when submitting their expenditures to the state. This is a third of their budget and they are given carte blanche to do pretty much whatever the hell they want. Sure, most of it is most likely legit but when your own state auditor can’t make heads or tails of where well over $1 billion dollars is going, I have some major issues with that. This is unacceptable and it will no longer be tolerated. I don’t care how much time I have to spend at Legislative Hall in 2018 to drum this into their heads. When education loses tons of money each year but we have wine and dine events at the local country club, that is absurd. This is EXACTLY what I wanted to talk to John Carney about after he was elected. But he had to go and blow me off. Big mistake. It’s not like I didn’t warn people this was going on. They just didn’t want to hear it. Carney just wanted to set up his self-destruct mechanisms for Delaware education, just like his predecessor. And as he sets off on his warped plan to charterize Wilmington schools, he could care less about where the money is going.

Delaware legislators: Cut the crap. I don’t want to hear your whining and complaining come next June about the budget and how you are doing everything you can. Change some laws. Make crap accountable and stop kissing asses all over the state. Do your job! The jig is up. I don’t necessarily blame the auditor’s office for all this. They inspect what they are able to. It is our General Assembly that needs to wake the hell up. You have allowed this scenario to happen. You have allowed this “discretion” that makes a Rubik’s Cube in a three-year-old’s hands look easy compared to the hot mess called First State Financials. No more excuses. Pass legislation demanding that every single expenditure be coded in a uniform way among ALL school districts and charter schools. And yes, charter schools should have been included in this report as well. But no way in hell would that happen because this report would have found a lot more “inconsistencies” and we all know it. But the General Assembly as a whole likes to protect and coddle them. Exactly what is wrong with Delaware education. If I sound pissed off, it’s cause I am. And every single taxpayer in this state should be ticked off as well.

To read this obscenity where money is unaccountable and untrackable and uncrackable and takes money away from where it is truly needed, please read below.

State Rep. John Kowalko Weighs In On Delaware Taxpayer Money Getting Flushed Down The Toilet

In my article on our Non-Transparent Delaware, State Rep. John Kowalko left a comment that deserved its own post.

As regards the “Commitment (of taxpayer money) To Innovation Act” please read the following:

I certainly have not and will not support any of these corporate tax welfare bills. DuPont/Dow moved the majority of research and other jobs in the agricultural spinoff to Iowa and Delaware taxpayers are left with some extremely costly crumbs (headquarters only) in Wilmington. Let me point out to all that there was and will continue to be opposition to this ravaging of the taxpayers’ wallet and I certainly will do my best to expose my colleagues to the illegitimacy of such policies that offer no return on investment for Delaware taxpayers.

My point is that making a product (Oreos for instance), moving 600 jobs from Chicago to Mexico across the border for dirt cheap wages and rueful working conditions benefits only those multi-billion dollar corporations and their CEOs (see DuPont/Dow $80 million bonuses) while idling thousands of American workers who no longer have spendable income to support the consumer spending that is needed for local businesses to survive. Ross Perot was right about that sucking sound. For example: DuPont $200 million factory built in China (recently opened) employing thousands of Chinese workers manufacturing solar panels for sale back here, or Johnson Controls recently constructed and opened battery manufacturing facility ($150 million) in China for distribution from the Delaware distribution center in Middletown that taxpayers invested millions in infrastructural and road improvements. For example DuPont spinoff headquarters staying in Wilmington while a significant majority of the actual jobs of the agricultural research branch goes to Iowa leaving Delaware with 1700 layoffs of well-paid positions and only a potential for job growth with a price tag of $16 million for Delaware taxpayers. The list goes on and on.

The “Corporate Welfare” policies of this Administration have cost the Delaware taxpayers $250 million during Governor Markell’s term. This irresponsible wasting of the taxpayer dollars has resulted in no discernible return on investment and has stopped absolutely no job losses from these wealthy corporations. Further compounding this administration’s erroneous economic missteps is the recent policy that was passed, despite my and Representative Williams objections, labelled the Delaware Competes Act. This corporate giveaway will cost over $48 million in lost revenue to Delaware with absolutely no appreciable effect to retain or grow jobs. Now the Administration has filed more legislation branded as “The Commitment to Innovation Act” that will further erode necessary revenue that provides basic, necessary services to Delawareans. Neither of these misguided economic policies will reinforce local business growth or stability and will leave a gaping hole in Delaware’s budget that this Administration will attempt to fill on the backs of state employees, seniors and the poorer families in Delaware.

Adding to the insult of these types of corporate giveaways is the actual statistical proof that these types of bribes and irresponsible economic policies have been marked by failure after failure at an unaffordable expense. Read the linked article and please note that $22 million went to JPMorgan which profited to the tune of $24.5 billion last year with “promises” of job growth that would inevitably have occurred without this taxpayer outlay. Note also the proposed $14.16 million to DuPont which totally dismisses the fact that there has been 1700 well-paid jobs recently and irretrievably cut by DuPont in Delaware. And the bulk of its future jobs with the newly created agricultural spinoff (Pioneer) will be lost to Iowa. Consider the $11 million gift to Incyte Corp. with the promise of creating 130 jobs in the future on the heels of the announcement by Incyte that they were laying off 137 Delawareans. The Fisker and Bloom debacles speak for themselves as monuments to irrational and irresponsible wastes of taxpayer dollars. One tenth of that $250 million diverted to supporting locally based businesses for job growth, infrastructural investments and production improvements via tax credits and subsidies would ensure a healthy and robust growth in our local communities and not end up in the pockets of corporate profiteers. Call your legislators and demand that they resist this callous and flawed attempt to redistribute and divert revenues from Delaware families into the coffers of wealthy corporations.

Jack Wells Shows Red Clay Support Salaries Far Exceed Any District In Delaware… And They Need More Money?

I really have to catch up on my email!  Jack Wells sent another Red Clay money email and this one is very illuminating:

The information provided below shows the  spending on salaries for Supervisors General Support by the Red Clay School Board.  This type of spending is an example of why Delaware Ranks 40th in Education and 14th in “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per students.  Does anyone except the members of  Red Clay School Board believe this is the most effective use of $3.1 million dollars?

How is it possible that one district, in this case Red Clay can spend more on salaries for Supervisors General Support than all the school districts in either Kent or Sussex Counties, over a million dollars.  It is possible because in Delaware  providing local school boards the authority to spend public funds without any oversight, without being required to provide justification or without any requirement to inform the residents is more important than  ensuring $2.4 Billion annually is used effectively so our children will receive the greatest opportunity to receive the best education possible.  

Spending          Percent of

       On           Salaries Funded

   Salaries       From State Funds

       95,503           70.9           Appoquinimink

1,024,330         35.7               BSD

1,222,845         47.5               CSD

   666.990         28.1               Colonial

   722,523         53.0               NCCVT

3,197,002         18.1               RCCSD

6,929,193        Total

 

   469,018        52.2               Cape Henlopen

   103,309        80.5               Delmar

  469,057        56.9               IRSD

   170,777        37.5               Laurel

   643,009        36.3               Seaford

     78,617        54.0               Sussex Tech

   314,969        46.0               Woodbridge

2,248,756   Total

  

   525,104       70.0               Caesar Rodney

   600,593       66.9               Capital

   418,992       40.3               Lake Forest

     24,705       82.1               Milford

   217,755       42.7               Poly Tech

  275,040       86.1               Smyrna

2,962,189      Total

 

While the money of the hard working taxpayers are wasted, it is the “children” who are denied the opportunities to receive the best education possible.  Unfortunately power to the school boards is more important than education opportunities.  

How and where are we expending over $2.4 billion annually for the education of our children?  Since Delaware is ranked 40th in Education and 14th in total current expenditures, you would think, my question would be the battle cry of our education decision makers, unfortunately their battle cry is, we need more money if you want us to fund our schools based on the needs of our children.

Here is where in just 2 account codes, the Red Clay School Board expended $14,498,184 in 2014-2015, an increase of $12,479,933 over 2006-2007.  I believe if our legislators are going to do what is best for our children, than they must require the Red Clay School Board to provide an explanation/justification for this spending.  Unfortunately in Delaware, school boards are authorized to spend millions without justification or informing the community.  

     Total                    Total                Increase         % Salaries    Federal Funds

Compensation  Compensation           in                Funded by      Expended

  6/30/2014            6/30/2006      Expenditures  State Funds     6/30/2014

 4,571,712              2,018,251          2,553,461         18.1              2,858,733       Supervisors

 9,926,472                  none               9,926,472         29.6              2,709,089       Salaries General

14,498,184              2,018,251        12,479,933                               5,567,822

 

Comments:

A.      The job title Salaries General was created when our state implemented the Statewide Financial Management System. It was created to be used by our school boards when they create positions that are not identified by the State.  When I compared the old and new system, the only positions I could identify that were deleted were those used for transportation. Those implementing the new system did not want the public to know the cost of transportation. Why would they not want the public to know the cost of transportation? Answer: Those making the decision did not want the public to know how many millions were/are being expended on transportation for activities.

B.      Except for bus drivers and bus aides I believe most of the employees being charged to Salaries General work above the school level, in any case they are not teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school level employees. The districts salary scales show positons like Education Associate with 6 digit salaries that are not identified by the state.  The board establishes these 6 digit salaries without providing justification or informing the residents. I strongly oppose allowing 4 elected officials to create these positions and these salaries without justification or informing the community, NOW THAT IS POWER OVER PUBLIC FUNDS.

C.      The percent of state funding supporting these positions clearly show Red Clay has determined more overhead is required than determined by the state, once again no justification required.

D.      Expending $5,567,822 from federal funds that are mostly earned by our low income and special needs children, than informing the community, we have no money to fund the needs of our schools, requires an explanation.  Why are these funds not being used to hire employees for our schools? 

We have a choice, continue to allow school boards to spend money without justification and without informing the community, or require accountability on how and where districts are using $2.4 billion annually. I vote for accountability. Why? That is what is best for our children.

Being ranked 40th in Education and 14th in Total Current Expenditures is a disgrace.  Is this the best we can do for our children, if so, shame on us.

Jack Wells

 

Brandywine Board of Education Votes Unanimously For Referendum On March 23rd

Last night, the Brandywine Board of Education passed a resolution calling for a referendum to support additional capital and organizational costs for the district.  The referendum will be held March 23rd, 2016.  The unanimous board vote calls for a referendum to increase property taxes by approximately $240 per tax payer on an annual basis according to an article from WDEL last month.

The last time Brandywine held a referendum was in 2012 for operating costs.  The referendum passed with 4,624 yes votes compared to 4,013 voting no as per Hockessin Community News.

The new referendum was recommended by Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick.  With school funding becoming a very controversial and hot topic in 2015, there is no mistaking that local funding is increasingly taking on more and more of a district’s operating costs.  Red Clay, Caesar Rodney and Milford passed much needed referendums earlier this year, while Christina failed in two referendum attempts.  Christina will attempt for a third referendum attempt in 2016 as well.