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CASD to adapt credit card policy

February 11, 2009|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Criticized last year over the use of credit cards by school district administrators, the Chambersburg School Board Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a policy regulating their future use.

"We've never had a credit card policy before," said Director of Information Services Sylvia Rockwood. "Now there's one district card and it's in Superintendent (Joseph) Padasak's name."

"There used to be seven. Now we're down to one and it's in a lock box in my office," Padasak said following Wednesday's meeting.

Last summer, taxpayer group Citizens for Responsible Government criticized the district for thousands of dollars in credit card expenses by Padasak and several other administration officials. The group also raised concerns about approximately $30,000 spent by the district to send 19 administrators and teachers to the Florida resort for a Model Schools Conference.

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"The local and state auditors went through all the credit cards," Padasak said of the transactions. "They said all we needed was a credit card policy."

Padasak said he does not expect the audits to produce any significant findings.

The policy gives the school board the authority to allow employees to use cards as designated by the superintendent. It also gives the board unlimited authority to revoke the use of any cards if used improperly.

All charges must be supported by fully itemized receipts or online order confirmations, the policy states.

CRG President Allen Piper said he is still waiting to see the results of the local and state audits. His group sent copies of the information supplied by the district to the Pennsylvania Auditor General's Office asking for an investigation.

Rockwood said last summer that the Disney World trip was paid for through the Project 720 grant program for secondary school improvement. The program includes funding that must be spent on professional development, she said.

The district also provided information on a number of credit card bills questioned by CRG.

During Wednesday's meeting, Padasak said the district is continuing efforts to hold down expenditures, including a freeze on adding any new positions and strict enforcement of overtime rules.

The amount of money spent on conferences and travel is down about two-thirds from the 2007-08 school year, Padasak said. The district will also be going to a four-day week when school is not in session this summer, a plan announced at a previous meeting.

The tentative final budget for 2009-10 is scheduled to be presented to the board on April 8 with final approval set for May 27. The board previously committed to keeping any tax increase at or below 4.9 percent next year, opting not to seek exceptions from the state to exceed that cap.

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