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Blog: Audit Finds $ And Equipment Missing From Philly Schools

File Photo (Credit: Thinkstock)

File Photo (Credit: Thinkstock)

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan:   Have you ever misplaced your keys?  Most of us have from time to time.  But what about losing a snow blower or air conditioner; has that ever happened to you?  I know, you’re probably thinking there’s no way to lose large items like that.  Well it seems the Philadelphia School District has managed to do that!

City Controller Alan Butkovitz has released the results of an audit that found 67 percent of the selected inventory at 11 different schools could not be located.  The missing items valued at $196,000 consisted of computers, cameras, snow blowers, musical instruments, air conditioners and medical equipment.   Imagine what would be found to be missing if the audit involved ALL city schools!

“These findings suggest the District is not properly safeguarding and accounting for its $272.6 million furniture and equipment inventory,” said Butkovitz.  “There appears to be a clear breakdown in the District’s procedures over its inventory, which reduced the ability to locate sampled property.”

At the new West Philadelphia High School, auditors could not locate various items, which went missing within a year.  This included the following: musical instruments, $5,150; snow blower, $945; Apple Imac computer, $1,379; and office furniture, $3,000.

According to Butkovitz the missing items were a result of the following: district personnel did not maintain adequate records to document what happened to equipment left in old facilities, some personnel removed equipment from school premises without proper authorization, and a new computerized inventory system that did not provide for sufficient accountability over deleted inventory.

At High School of the Future, Baldi Middle School and Frances E. Willard Elementary School, it was found that laptops, a desktop and a sewing machine were removed from school premises and were in the homes of school personnel without obtaining the required approvals.  (I wonder if I could take home an 80 inch HDTV from CBS3 without them noticing?) 

Cash is missing too!  The Controller’s audit found insufficient oversight of the District’s petty cash and student activity funds in those selected for review.  Of the total $20,700 in sampled petty cash funds from six selected schools, auditors found a shortage of more than $14,000. 

For more information on the audit visit:
www.philadelphiacontroller.org

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