Auditor General DePasquale Critical of Missing Details on $8.7 million Transportation Costs in Greater Johnstown School District

Cost to Local Taxpayers to Cover Transportation Soared 266 Percent in Five Years
December 21 2013
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Auditor General DePasquale Critical of Missing Details on $8.7 million Transportation Costs in Greater Johnstown School District

Cost to Local Taxpayers to Cover Transportation Soared 266 Percent in Five Years

Audit report

JOHNSTOWN, PA (Dec. 20, 2013) — Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today criticized the Greater Johnstown School District, Cambria County, for being unable to justify $8.7 million in transportation reimbursements received over 10 years.

In the latest audit covering the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, the district did not maintain documentation supporting$2.3 million in state transportation reimbursements. The district has not provided documents to support the accuracy of $8.7 million in transportation reimbursements since the 2002-03 school year. As a result, auditors have been unable to verify if the district received the correct amount of state reimbursements for four consecutive audits.

“Despite repeated promises, school officials failed to fix chronic problems with the lack of transportation documentation identified in four consecutive audits,” DePasquale said. “We keep warning them and warning them to address this. Yet they have done very little. This is very troubling because taxpayers deserve to have a full accounting for every dollar.”

DePasquale said he was also concerned the district continues to spend more than the state reimbursement for transportation costs, leaving taxpayers to absorb the difference.

Auditors found district taxpayers paid a $3.9 million difference between state reimbursements and a private contractor’s transportation costs over a five-year period, starting in 2005. In that five-year span, the transportation contractor’s costs increased by approximately 61 percent; the state reimbursement went up approximately 4.0 percent, and the local share to cover the difference up by approximately 266 percent.

DePasquale recommends district officials solicit competitive bids for transportation, ensure supporting documentation is maintained and verify the accuracy of transportation related data it receives.

“Taxpayers in the greater Johnstown area are getting clobbered. The district needs to do everything it can to ensure that as much funding as possible is going into classroom education,” DePasquale said.

The Greater Johnstown School District provided basic education to 3,212 students and employed 232 teachers, 99 full- and part-time support personnel and 19 administrators in the 2009-10 school year when it received $23 million in state funding.

The Department of the Auditor General’s Bureau of School Audits examines the records of school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and area vocational-technical schools. The audits assess whether school entities received the state subsidies and reimbursements to which they were entitled, accurately managed taxpayer funds, and complied with ethics codes. The audits also determine whether teachers and administrators were properly certified for the positions they held during the audit period.

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