They didn't wreck my life. They gave me a Reason to fight against Injustice, Greed, and Tyranny.


21 February 2010

Busted! (Again)

The Prince William County Schools current superintendent is certainly a gift that keeps on giving... the position is a topic of online news articles that still originate from New York:
The Eldredge, Fox & Porretti audit followed a scathing state Comptroller's Office audit of the school system that found numerous instances of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer monies within the district. In August 2008, the Board of Education hired EFP to scrutinize the $119.5 million capital improvements project, and to probe expense reimbursements and financial transactions involving former Superintendent Steven L. Walts and his employee cabinet.

Regarding Walts, auditors determined that while he may have had high cell phone bills during the months he was preparing for a new job in Virginia, the Greece school district was obligated to pay those bills under his employment contract. Auditors did criticize him and other former district officials for "excessive" travel expenses, including out-of-town hotel stays with room costs of $350 per night and up and a California trip that cost the district $2,100 in airfare.

Auditors also found Walts made several trips to Virginia between March and July 2005 and did not record those days as vacation days, something auditors called "a consistent pattern of activity" that cost the district nearly $10,000. Auditors said Walts "essentially spent the last week of his (Greece Central School District) employment conducting personal business."
and subsequently get picked up by InsideNoVA:
During Walts' seven-year stint as superintendent of the Greece (N.Y.) Central School District, over-charging by contractors on projects related to a 2001 Capital Improvement Plan budget were in excess of $200,000. In examining the CIP, the third-party auditors confirmed insufficient documentation, change order issues and inconsistent labor rates charged by contractors.

"Quotes for work were often presented as a lump sum amount without any breakdown of labor, materials, or overhead and profit amounts," the document states. It also mentions that on many occa-sions, contractor invoices were found lacking in detail, in some cases just listing the amount due."
The audit for the Greece Central School District can be read here.

It's interesting reading like these gems that make me wonder why the superintendent's contract was renewed over the summer. When stories like these pop up, we can begin to point the fingers at those who had voted "yea" to renewal. Had I been on the school board two summers ago, I would have gladly voted for a severance package, and we would have been rid of this character, and perhaps have been able to find a far better, less shady, less soiled person to lead this school system. But no. The taxpayers ultimately pay the price.

I must wonder how well this will go down with the voters come 2011.

1 comment:

  1. This is a letter to the editor to the News & Messenger I recently submitted:

    P.W.C. school board Chairman Milton Johns states, " I was surprised to
    see today's follow-up story on the Greece, N.Y., schools audit, since
    the audit report is around a year old. There were two financial
    audits done. There was the audit by the New York Comptroller which
    found the $119 million voter-approved capital improvements plan was
    replete with poor fiscal management, waste and abuse. Then there was
    the forensic audit performed by EFP which
    essentially found the same thing. Chairman Johns states, " I also
    believe that the audit must also be viewed in the context of the
    political situation in Greece, N.Y., and the underlying motivations
    that may not be apparent to us here in Prince William County." He is
    implying the results of the audit by the New York Comptroller and the
    forensic audit by Eldredge, Fox and Poretti are not valid, that they
    are politically motivated and without merit. He presents no evidence
    to substantiate this.

    Chairman Johns doesn't mention the other audits which were done
    pertaining to Walts time as superintendent of GCSD.. There was a 2005
    education audit which found a culture of negativity. There was also a
    2005 Greece BOE investigation of allegations of discrimination against

    Another thing Prince William County citizens may not know is that in
    2005 eight families accused Greece school district of denying disabled
    children a "free appropriate public education based on Walt's
    policies. As a result there was a lawsuit.

    Chairman Johns writes, "Knowing what is in the New York audit report
    and knowing Dr. Walts' actions, I am confident that he did, in fact,
    follow all processes and procedures that were in place at the time in
    his previous school system." The Greece group Citizens for
    Accountability and Reform in Education didn't think so.

    It is obvious in writing his letter to the editor Chairman Johns is
    engaging in damage control. He is correct in pointing out since Walts
    has been superintendent of PWCS no impropriety has been discovered.
    However, based on Superintendent Walts performance in his last job in
    Greece, N.Y. the P.W.C. citizen/taxpayer should be wary of his
    spending and policies.

    Finally, Chairman Johns mentions the strides PWCS have made. This is
    great news. However, there are other items which are important such as whether
    teachers are being discriminated against and special ed students are
    receiving a free and appropriate education. It is important money
    isn't spent on a $10,000 dollar water fountain and a $100,000


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