Scranton School Board and School District Respond to State Audit

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) The Scranton School District and the School Board say mistakes may have been made, but it won’t happen again.

   This is in reaction to the filing of criminal charges Tuesday against former district fleet manager Dan Sansky.

   The charges, coming on the heels of a state audit– allege Sansky overbilled and double-billed tens of thousands of dollars because of a broken accounting system.

      The Superintendent of the District issued a statement detailing 14 changes the district has made since the audit was released adding “The district is operating under a strategic plan…” to find problem areas and improve them.

   The school board also issued a statement saying it “Cannot overlook any improper actions, past or current, involving active or retired school district personnel.”

Scranton School District – Grand Jury Findings 2018 Scranton, PA – “The School District thanks Attorney General Shapiro for the time and resources he and his team members have put into the investigation of Dan Sansky. From the onset of the investigation the District has and will continue to fully cooperate,” said Superintendent Dr. Alexis T. Kirijan.

The investigation was prompted by Auditor General De Pasquale’s audit findings, many of which were addressed immediately and others that are currently being addressed. Mr. De Pasquale addressed the need for operational management and educational changes.

The District is operating under a strategic plan, which identifies areas for improvement and strategies for making the improvements.

The District has made improvements in Finance Department management and procedures, which include;

• Contract Approval: All contracts are reviewed by the Board before work is authorized.

• Building Purchase Orders: Before a check goes to Accounts Payable, all payments are reviewed by Principals for approval. They are then sent to the Business Manager for account assignment and jointly reviewed and approved or rejected by the Business Manager and Superintendent.

• Vouchers: Vouchers for goods and services, including vehicles and building maintenance, are authorized by the Department Heads and jointly approved or rejected by the Business Manager and Superintendent.

• Bill List: Prior to each Board Meeting, a Bill List is submitted to the Board for review, which now includes the budget account, the original budget and the available funds.

• Budget Transfers: When necessary, the Board is presented with a budget transfer form to reallocate available funds for expenditures that exceeded the original budget.

• Budget Classifications: For 2019, the budget will be aligned to the recommended PA Department of Education budget classifications. The budget is aligned to the District’s Strategic Plan.

• Policy: In alignment with PASBO Guidelines the purchasing policy was revised to ensure that no contracts above $10,000 are entered into without Board approval. Additionally, “PSBA recommended” policy updates are reviewed and brought to the Board for approval. Staff is notified of the policy changes.

• Professional Services: Professional services are now bid.

• Utilization of Software: Software is now being utilized to streamline financial operations and staff training is being provided.

State Reports: A calendar and reminder system is being utilized to ensure timely submission of PA Department of Education required reports.

• Credit Cards: The District limits credit card use to ensure the tracking of receipts and vouchers.

• Electronic Payments: For the 2018 Summer School Program the District piloted an electronic payment system, which will be expanded to other student activity funds, limiting cash transactions.

• Health Care Benefits: The District continues to monitor Health Care recipients to ensure proper eligibility.

• Processes and Procedures:

The District continues to work closely with PFM to review processes and procedures and align with PA Department of Education’s best practices.

“I am optimistic that the plan the District has in place to increase student achievement, improve systems, processes and procedures, and transition to a culture of excellence, equity, ethics and engagement is attainable over time. By strategically realigning resources, properly distributing workloads, providing teacher and leader training, realistically managing the budget and working toward continuous improvements in all we do student achievement will improve. The changes that were made and will continue to be made will be implemented with Board support ethically and with transparency,” said Superintendent Dr. Alexis T. Kirijan

SCRANTON SCHOOL BOARD STATEMENT ON THE FINDINGS OF THE 41st STATEWIDE INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY 

In January, the Board of Education requested that the Lackawanna County District Attorney launch an investigation into the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for non-descript services and healthcare benefits to a non-employee of the Scranton School District between 2006-2017, a matter identified as Finding No. 5 in the Auditor General’s Performance Audit released in October 2017.

District Attorney Mark Powell referred the matter to the office of the State Attorney General. Yesterday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced first-degree felony charges against the former fleet manager for the Scranton School District and released the findings of the 41 st Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.

Improper billing, work on personal vehicles and conspiracy to defraud the SSD, and, by extension, the taxpayers of the City of Scranton, are very serious matters which must be addressed not only with the charges set forth but by action of the Scranton School District. Although the report determines that the District’s self-insured status allows that health benefits be offered to sub-contractors, the Board of Education is concerned with the process by which this decision was made and past efforts to conceal the agreement.

The Board is aware that procedures have been strengthened to guard against many of the acts detailed in the report but cannot overlook any improper actions, past or current, involving active or retired SSD personnel. The Board will look to the PA School Code, Scranton School District Policy and Administrative Regulations to guide its actions in dealing with the concerned parties.

It is noted in the report that the “SSD has provided, and continues to provide, cooperation in connection with the investigation.” The Scranton School Board is committed to supporting these efforts and will ensure that cooperation continues.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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