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Audit: Johnstown School District can't account for $8.7 million

Auditor General proposes recommendations for district

By: WJAC Web Staff

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania Auditor Generals Office announced Friday the findings from years of audits of a Cambria County school district that couldnt account for millions of dollars in transportation funding.

Holding a press conference at the Cambria County War Memorial in downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale criticized the Greater Johnstown School District for being unable to account for $8.7 million in transportation reimbursements that were received over a 10-year period.

DePasquale said in the latest school district audit covering the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, the district didnt maintain documentation to support $2.3 million in state transportation reimbursements.

WEB EXTRA: Click here to read the audit

Additionally, the district was unable to provide documentation to support the accuracy of the $8.7 million in transit reimbursements since the 2002-2003 school year, DePasquale said.

DePasquale said as a result of the lack of documentation, auditors were 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 auditors found district taxpayers paid a $3.9 million difference between state reimbursements and a private contractors transportation costs of a five-year period starting in 2005.

DePasquale said over a five-year period, the expenses of the transportation contractor, which was not named, increased by approximately 61 percent, the state reimbursement went up approximately 4 percent, and the amount to cover the difference locally went up 266 percent.

DePasquale recommended district officials begin holding competitive bids for transportation services and maintain better documentation to support transportation-related data.

The audit was conducted by the Auditor Generals Bureau of School Audits and examines public school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and vocational-technical schools records. Audits done by the office assess whether districts or schools accurately manage taxpayer funds, state subsidies and state reimbursements.

"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.

6 News reporter Kerri Corrado was at the press conference and will have more on the audit findings beginning on 6 News at 5.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times