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CASD administrators questioned about expenditures

Included was a $9,274.68 voucher for Walt Disney World

Included was a $9,274.68 voucher for Walt Disney World

September 12, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERBSURG, PA. -- Chambersburg Area School District administrators who were questioned this week about expenditures from earlier this year have provided explanations for some of the larger credit card bills from May and June.

Citizens for Responsible Government President Allen Piper questioned the school board Wednesday about specific expenses during that two-month period and said he would be submitting more requests under Pennsylvania's Right to Know law.

The questioned expenses included a June 12 voucher to Walt Disney World for $9,274.68; $1,038.96 paid to Hershey Lodge on May 28; $979.46 paid to Giant Food on June 4; $416.16 paid to Kmart on June 25; and $250 paid to Life's A Party on May 28, according to a letter Piper sent to the district July 16.

Piper told the board Wednesday he wanted detailed explanations of the expenditures and had filed other Right to Know requests for information from other months.

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The Walt Disney World bill was payment for hotel expenses over three nights in July for 19 teachers and administrators attending a Model School Conference, said Sylvia Rockwood, the district's director of Information Services. The money came from a Project 720 state grant for secondary school improvement, "some of which must be spent on professional development," she said Friday.

The conference was one recommended by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Project 720 and was attended by a number of school officials from other districts in Franklin County, Rockwood said.

Airfare for the 19 also was paid for out of the Project 720 grants, Business Manager Rick Vensel said. Superintendent Joseph Padasak said the amount of the Project 720 grant is about $70,000.

The payment to Hershey Lodge was for three librarians to attend the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Conference over a period of three days, Rockwood said. District librarians have attended that annual conference for a number of years, she said.

Rockwood said the payment to Giant Food was for supplies, including food, purchased for Family Consumer Science classes, Rockwood said. The payment to Kmart was for teaching supplies, she said.

The $250 paid to Life's A Party was for Color Day supplies, Rockwood said. While the purchase was made with a district credit card, the money actually came from the students' class activities fund, which is "all student-generated," she said.

Also questioned by Piper was a $300 payment June 25 to Padasak and two receipts from Padasak totaling $1,185 dated April 17 and May 29. Padasak said that was for a trip he took to the National School Boards Convention in Orlando, on which he was accompanied by his wife and daughter.

Vensel said Padasak's contract with the district includes a stipend of $300 a month, which the superintendent was paid toward the trip. The checks from Padasak were reimbursement to the district for the balance of the trip's expense, Vensel said.

Padasak said the trip was booked through the school district and he reimbursed the district with two checks, Vensel said.

Piper's inquiry did lead to a change by the administration to curtail the use of district credit cards for many expenses, Padasak said. The superintendent cited times he used the credit cards to pay for meals with board members, administrators or officials from other districts, such as lunches with superintendents.

"We're going back to the old method of reimbursement. We pay it out of our pocket and then submit bills," Padasak said. "It does tend to keep in check people using credits cards too much."

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