wake of a three-mom Hoboken school board sweep -- they ran on a
reform platform earlier this year -- which resulted in superintendent
Jack Raslowsky's departure for a job at a private high school in
Manhattan and the defeat of six-year board veteran and president
Frank "Pupie" Raia, an affordable housing (read: federal money)
developer; after losing his school board reelection campaign, Pupie
subsequently also lost his bid for Hoboken mayor to yet another
reform-platform woman whose campaign was powered more by
volunteers than by money.   Hoping this all portends hope for
Hoboken schoolchildren and taxpayers -- if the ladies can keep
unlike several other Ohio school districts Kenston's check register is not yet online.  "All of the
things our school needs, new computers, new desks, new everything -- for someone to be
stealing our money that goes to our kids?" asked Lori Wilson, a substitute teacher and parent
of three students.  "I'm shocked.  I thought there would be a lot more checks and balances."  
Another parent, Charles Marchant, said, "As a small business owner, I know it's tough to
maintain the checks and balances but there has to be some oversight."  Readers commented:  
"This one had the 'checks' end of it covered, but the 'balances' part of it was lacking....Who set
up an account that had the ability to be tapped without a countersignature?" and "With that
Angel pin she was wearing, she sure had me fooled."
(SOURCE--Dave Summers / WKYC.com)
FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS:  
(1)  For Terry Fralick, Watertown, New York:  Was your $800K shortfall prediction with or
without stronger internal controls in place? If New York taxpayers find a way in this  economy  
to cough up more money, what assurance do they have that you will be a better steward than
you were before Comptroller di Napoli's audit findings were released?  At what point do you
take personal responsibility for the preventable losses that occurred under your watch?
(2)  For Texas Lege education chairs Florence Shapiro and Rob Eissler:  What steps
are you taking to assure that the technology monies you lobbied for will be better spent than
the $82 million loss Houston ISD has just experienced?
(3) For new Inglewood USD superintendent Gary McHenry:   What internal controls will you
put into place regarding discretionary spending by district officials and employees for travel
and meals, and what steps will you take to encourage webinars, etc. in lieu?
preventable losses at the district ranging from student funds being used for a teacher's
missing iPhone to MIA cafeteria money totaling almost a quarter of a million dollars.  In the
When schools have a problem in one area they also often have
problems in other seemingly unrelated areas, and this is true in
Hoboken, New Jersey where news comes that not only are student
scores down; but also recent audit findings have disclosed
Ironically, in the face of the Comptroller's findings, Fralick has nevertheless sounded the mo'
money mantra at the state level, claiming a $800,000 budget shortfall.  
"The Watertown City School District acknowledges that the purchasing agent did
not always ensure that goods and services were purchased in accordance with
the District's procurement policy and regulation and pertinent laws."
Lynne Wight nor superintendent Terry Fralick seem to accept responsibility for the losses.  
How heroic; looks like they're blaming the district's anonymous purchasing agent:  
(1)  Preventable loss:  $4,947
Watertown City School District (NY)
In charge:  superintendent Terry N. Fralick
Not even Watertown schools' business manager's CPA nor their
superintendents' position in the "House of Delegates" for the New York
State Council of School Superintendents were enough to safeguard
precious tax dollars from preventable losses such as the $4,947 they
overpaid for playground equipment by not putting the purchase out for
bid, brought to light during a
state audit.  Neither business manager
(L) Terry Fralick, Meria Carstarphen, Alda Benavides, Jack Raslowsky, Barbara Vigil-Lowder, Bob Lee, Pamela Short-Powell, Abe Saavedra
(7)  Preventable loss:  $203,000
Bernalillo Public Schools (NM)
In charge:  superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder
COACHELLA USD (CA)
Posted 10.02.09
Now, last, let's find room in
your picture for
BusRadio, a
Massachusetts-based
company created by Michael
Yanoff and Steve Shulman --
no strangers to "injecting
advertising" into schools --  
for the purpose of using the
lure of
"free" GPS trackers to
school districts in order to
feed commercials to children
on school buses.  BusRadio
was introduced to CVUSD by
its then-transportation
director Raul Lopez who
currently faces charges of
having embezzled $109,000
from the district.

BusRadio earlier this week
followed Channel One and
closed its doors.  

10.02.09 FOLLOW UP:  No
response yet from CVUSD as
to how much they spent on
BusRadio or Raul's
BusRadio dealings including
fees and costs for his
attendance at conferences
where he might have learned
about BusRadio.  Ricardo's
away this week at an
education conference; his
secretary said she didn't
know which one or where..
$84,500 - Bus transportation
"It was very easy," former
Byron ASD transportation
manager Scott C. Turpin
told
a judge earlier this week,
saying his embezzlement
started with a mistake in
billing when the school was
accidentally charged with
parts he originally
ordered for his home-based
automobile repair business;
later he also charged
equipment.  “It just escalated
and got out of control,” Turpin
said.  Fortunately a BASD  
bookkeeper discovered the
theft when attempting to
match parts purchased
against the district's inventory.
TAKE-AWAYS:  More eyes
always help; the $84,500
loss could have been
considerably less had
BASD's check register been
online along with more
financial specifics in their
board minutes.  For example,
although the public's given
vendor names and amounts
and the purpose for some
transactions ($9,482.50 for
gym lighting and $13,300 for  
upgrades to football
bleachers) no amount is
given for the
superintendent's salary on
his new contract.

CURE: Put BASD's check
registers online, tighten
internal controls.

10.01.09:  FOLLOW UP from
Dan Scow:
Publisher's support
No reporter, no matter
how able, can long
function without a
supportive publisher.

Says KeyNoter publisher
Wayne Markham:  "Sean,
a recent University of
Missippi grad, is a good
example of the young
reporters now coming out
of college who are very
comfortable using video
cameras, still cameras,
audio recorders and
traditional note-taking to
capture and deliver
information to readers.      
             "The Keynoter is a
twice-a-week community
newspaper with a weekly
circulation in print of
about 30,000.  Our online
readership is more than
double that. Sean has
taken video of news as it
happens and posted to
the web, then turned
around to write a quick
web story, and finally the
version that appears in
the printed paper along
with still photos.   The
financial scandal at the
very top of the school
district has been a
challenging story to
pursue, including
stake-out of the jail to
capture the photo of the
Superintendent's wife
being handcuffed and led
into jail. "
No.  Key West is lucky
because they have a
reporter like Sean Kinney
of KeysNet willing to stick
his neck out and take the
kinds of action photos like
the one above with
immediacy to them that
most print reporters have
until the recent downturn
in print revenues been
reluctant to go after.   

What Sean's doing in the
field of education
reporting is lighting a fire
that I'm hoping will
spread to his fellows at
other papers.

For a reporter it's one
thing to go to a school
board meeting and take
some talking heads
shots, or to sit in a
courtroom press box and
take a photo of a meth
cooker in leg irons--but
quite another still to place
oneself wherever
necessary no matter what
in order to get a shot such
as this of one  above of
one of the most respected
people in any community
-- the school superinten-
dent -- watching his wife
and employee being
handcuffed.   

Capturing such images
as these requires a big
step outside most folks'
comfort zones.

In an era when most
newspaper reporters view
cameras as stepchildren
to the golden words they
write, Sean understands
the power of a camera to
present "You are there"
images in a visual age in
a way that words on a
page can't.

Photos like the one
above, and the one below
where the supe is himself
Sean Kinney in his own
words
:  "It became
apparent in my senior year
of journalism school, 2008,
with an emphais on print
and magazine writing, that
the industry trend was
towards people that couuld
wear multiple hats.  I have
no training in photography.  
However, I realized that an
individual who could say
"yes" when asked  if you
can report, shoot pics,write
scripts, anchor a TV show,
produce sound bites and
even record and edit video,
is sitting in the catbird seat.  
It's a big learning curve but,
when you realize the
benefit, it comes naturally.   
For instance, instead of a
reporter and a photographer,
two people that can do both
essentially double potential
coverage and,subsequently,
news product.  It's good
business and professionally
invaluable; plus, it's a lot of
fun.  Media convergence, as
in increasing efficiency by
concurrently producing
news in different mediums,
is the thing.
Orange County Weekly:
Capistrano USD supe
Woody Carter at
edu-conference spa
WHO'S ATTENDING YOUR
SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS
?
Follow the money
in our
vendor-driven schools:  
15 vendors & special
interests at board meetings
The nation's 1st  & only daily conservative public education commentary   -   Solutions, not Fear
P E Y T O N   W O L C O T T

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education:
one person, one question,
one school at a time.
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Copyright 1999-2009 Peyton Wolcott

"Walk softly
and carry a big stick."
-- Teddy Roosevelt

"Trust but verify."
-- Ronald Reagan
Just because you can
doesn't mean you should.
H o w   w e   t a k e   b a c k   o u r   c h i l d r e n ' s    e d u c a t i o n:    o n e   p e r s o n ,  o n e   q u e s t i o n ,   o n e   s c h o o l   a t   a   t i m e.
"Gloria from Luling" on
sidewalk outside
Walsh Anderson party at
Austin's Iron Cactus
with unnamed man who
was shy about  
revealing his name
(TASA Mid Winter, 2007 )
Soghra Najafpour (L) was
sentenced to death at age 13 for
the first time in
Iran; she's now
31 --
more here.  Did principal
Robin E. Lowe (L)  mention
Soghra during her 'Islam 101'  
day May 22 at Friendswood  JH?  
Will she mention Soghra at her
new gig running Houston ISD's
Pershing MS?  Wouldn't that be a
step towards "raising [her
students'] awareness of the
culture" -- of the true culture -- in
Iran?  That perhaps Robin's
invited speakers from CAIR might
have forgotten to mention?  
Oops?
UPDATE:  As of today no
response yet from Robin to
telephone and email queries.
IRAN: Execution
Danger Alert
School News Quick Links
Jan.-Sept. 2008  here
Oct.-Nov. 2008  here
The American Superintendent
(Leonard Merrell) as Allan
Ramsay's King George III
 
(Mixed-media collage by Peyton
Wolcott, Copyright 2008)
Wolcott
Peyton
6 SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS FOR SCHOOL
SUPERINTENDENTS

1.  End discretionary spending.
Set an example for your staff; let them know you mean
business about running a tighter ship:  No trips, no
conferences, no meals, no credit cards.  If you want to
learn more about something, use Google.  Do a
webinar.  Read a newsletter.   No golf games with
vendors, ever.  No chauffeurs, no rental cars.  Stay home,
do your work and keep your nose clean.

2.  Reduce administrative costs.
Go through your administrative staff roster and cut every
other job, starting with getting rid of all PR and
marketing.  No advisors, no consultants. Learn how to
really read a budget.  Put your check register and all wire
transfers online.

3.  Ethics.
No nepotism.  Let your wife and kids earn a living in a
field other than education.  No board members' spouses
working in the district.  Conduct all discussions with
vendors and potential vendors in the open; invite your
public to watch and ask questions.  Throw away your
contract and work year by year.  Move your chair off the
dais at board meetings.  You're not a team member with
your elected trustees.  You're not equal to them.  They're
your boss.

4.  No construction.  
If you're the rare district truly experiencing sufficient
growth to justify building new schools, splinter off that
population and let them start their own new school
district or charter school.  They might be able to take over
an abandoned church or office building for much less
than the Taj Mahal you had in mind.

5.  Back-to-basics curriculum.
Math table (1st grade: add, 2nd grade: subtract, 3rd
grade multiply, 4th grade divide) daily drill.  You made
sure your own kids learned the basics at home or with
tutors; why shouldn't all children have that same
opportunity?  Ditto for phonics.  Classical literature.  
History, not social studies.  No more block scheduling.  
Daily P.E. for all. Emphasize individual effort and
accomplishment.

6.  Attitude.  
You're a public servant, not a Third World dictator.
Practice humility and gratitude.  Remember when your
employees laugh at your jokes or tell you you're cool or
vendors marvel at your every utterance that they're all
sucking up to you.  Remember why you got into
education to begin with.  Sell your house in the gated
community and buy one in the middle of a real
subdivision like your average parents and taxpayers can
afford.  Let yourself be driven not by the latest platitude
you picked up at the latest education conference but by
the same wonderful noble desire to educate kids that got
you into this field
.
More "Best Practices"
here.
U.S. FEDERAL TAXPAYER DOLLARS
TO  DISD
2000-2007
2000-2001   $   121,951,145
2001-2002   $   137,745,786
2002-2003   $   169,103,740
2003-2004   $   188,618,903
2004-2005   $   188,838,330
2005-2006   $   215,068,567
2006-2007  
 $   217,970,686
TOTAL        $1,239,297,157
TEXAS TAXPAYER
DOLLARS TO DISD
2000-2007
2000-2001   $   204,116,731
2001-2002   $   180,097,229
2002-2003   $   254,465,426
2003-2004   $   199,905,502
2004-2005   $   199,940,243
2005-2006   $   198,907,113
2006-2007   $
  305,839,277
TOTAL         $1,543,271,521
Texas and U.S. taxpayers have sent
almost $3 billion
to Dallas ISD since 2000
U.S. school districts with
check registers online
A-L (Alabama to Kentucky)
M-Z (Michigan to Wyoming)
Texas districts online
A-L (Agua Dulce to Luling)
M-Z   (Mabank to Zapata)
Terms & Conditions:  Sorry to have to
include
this;  some groups--God bless
them--have copied my research and
published it as their own.
Robin Hood & 22 'equity'
failures:
MALDEF's 22
Edgewood districts cost
Texans billions in failed
academics & extravagance.
How to persuade your
district:
Friendly works
best-- t
ake the Golden Rule
with you when
asking your
schools to post checks.  
Testimonials:  issues &
concerns
solved.
Dec.2008-Jan.2009   here
Feb. - Mar. 2009   here
April - May 2009   here
June - July 2009   here
Leonard Merrell Center
Katy ISD, Texas
(PHOTO--Peyton Wolcott)
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website useful!
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Click here, see if you can find what you're
looking for; if not, try Googling whatever it
is in quotes along with my name in quotes,
as this example:
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As of June 1, 2009, there were 290 reports
to choose from for this one category.
Thank you for reading,
and thank you for your interest in our
schools and our schoolchildren.
Texas Hill Country - Mesquite and Wildflowers
Boerne
WELCOME, Washington state! Public school checks now online in 34 states, 600+ school districts, in 3 years!
05.29.09
Mon., Nov. 30, 2009
Betsy Aldridge
Holocaust Museum (NYC)
+++++++
Public Relations
As Public Relations
Manager for New York
City's Holocaust
Museum, Betsy Aldridge
(above) sets a good
example for her brothers
and sisters in the
communications field.

Not only did Betsy
promptly answer the
phone but also provided
the complete information
I sought within the first
half hour of my asking.

Here's hoping school
public relations folks will
follow Betsy's leadership
in this area of responding
to the media.

Looking for
more info re
transparency,
real courage
and other
Best Practices?

They're
archived
here
Sean Kinney
Reporter,
KeyNoter.com
Key West, Florida
BEST PRACTICES
N  E  W     C  O  M  M  E  N  T  A  R  I  E  S
Not just because it's one
of America's most beau-
tiful locales, and certainly
not because
their school
superintendent and his
wife are being prosecu-
ted for their alleged roles
in the abuse of the
district's finances
including credit cards.
By Peyton Wolcott
Thu., Sept. 24, 2009
Stand-up comedians Mike
Nichols and Elaine May had
an
improv routine in which it
evolved that a little girl is
telling her daddy goodbye, it
seems for a long time;
towards the end of the
sketch we realize it's
because he's going to the
pen.  After the dad departs
the little girl pulls herself
together quickly and
announces in a deadpan,
"Well, there he goes again."
The very structure of the
American political system is at
the heart of these failures. For
example, thwarting Obama on a
regular basis is an
unrepresentative senate where
"minority rule" prevails and
undermines what a majority of
the country may want. With two
senators elected per state,
regardless of population,
California with more than 35
million people has the same
number of senators as Wyoming
with just half a million residents.
This constitutional arrangement
greatly favours low population
states, many of which tend to be
conservative, producing what
one political analyst has called "a
weighted vote for small-town
whites in pickup trucks with gun
racks."
Funny seeing plaints about
our American bicameral
legislative structure
published by American Steve
Hill in UK's Guardian, a
country with a queen:
The uncredited author of this
quote by the way is
Tom
Geoghegan, a Chicago
Democrat labor lawyer
(United Mine Workers,
Teamster) who failed in his
bid earlier this year on a
"new progressivism"
platform to fill Rahm
Emanuel's seat.  Could it be
that the good people of
Illinois have had enough of
mean-spirited liberal elites
and progressivism -- not to
mention center-left pols
dissing the
hoi polloi?

Hill's piece's title?  "Obama
the Impotent."
Asides . . . .
No wonder Muammar's
confused
about the whole
take-up-your-tent-and-go-ho
me greeting we've given him
this visit, given
Condi's warm
Areva-related overtures two
years ago followed by Mr.
Obama's
world apology tour.  
Perhaps the French will let
him set up his tent at the
base of the Eiffel Tower and
he can commute to New
York each morning. . . . .
Good about the
Lockerbie
families' UN protests
yesterday in Manhattan.
Muammar Gaddafi and NYC tent
(PHOTOS--BBC, TimesOnline)
Somehow this came to mind
yesterday when I learned that
superintendent Anthony
Amato (above) had been
fired
from his latest job at Stockton
USD.  Yup, there he goes
again.  God bless him.
How many more teacher/
student sex cases must
there be before we all agree
enough already with teachers
fraternizing with students?
For now, the third day of
Sandy Binkley's (above) trial
in Tennessee has just
concluded and a jury will
have to decide just how far
"
sexual  textual" relations
between teachers and
students should go.
EMBEZZLEMENT WATCH
October 1, 2009
3-year anniversary
Byron Area SD (MI)
Posted 10.01.09
(Left) BASD supe Daniel L. Scow;
Byron MS
Key West, Florida is one
lucky community . . . .
being handcuffed,
permanently change
things, important things.

First, without such photos
keeping the Acevedo
matter not only alive but
also front and center in
the public's awareness,
it's simply been too easy  
for local DA's to not
prosecute powerful
school officials.

Second, what citizen will
ever again view the local
school superintendent in
quite the same way  once
they've seen him being
handcuffed?
Posted October 1, 2009
Updated October 7, 2009
+++++++++++++++++++
Photos:  Copyright Keynoter
Publishing Co. Inc, 2009.
Reprinted by permission of the
Keynoter Publishing Co. Inc.
FACT OF THE WEEK:  Texas school districts spent $ 12,165 per student, not the $ 7,495 usually reported, during 2008-2009 school year.
(L) 2007: Raul Lopez with new
BusRadio satellite system

(PHOTO--Rodrigo Peña/Press-
Enterprise);
Foch "Tut" Pensis (AP)
$109,000
Bus transportation
Picture if you will Coachella
Valley, encompassing as it
does 1,200 square miles of
desert and farms producingt
most of California's lemons,
oranges, avocados, figs,
persimmons, table grapes
and dates. Coachella Valley
USD, the local school
district, is charged with
educating the children of the
illegal migrant workers who
pick the lemons and
oranges; most of the
children arrive in Coachella
Valley not speaking English.  
Now picture 125 school
buses and vans moving
9,000 students to and from
CV schools each day.

Now, for a more accurate
picture, let's mention that
CVUSD's long-time supe
(and let's make sure we
get
his name right, Foch "Tut"
Pensis) quit last year when
as California's first NCLB
casualty the state retook
control of the district; Tut was
replaced by Texas/Michigan
transplant Ricardo Medina
(
ALAS, he's president of the
Association of Latino
Administrators & Superinten-
dents) earlier this year.  So
you've got a poor underper-
forming district with a lot of
kids who can't speak English
and a turnover in top
management from far away
coupled with a bunch of
federal funds coming in with
typically little oversight and a
school board who may or
may not be holding any
administrators accountable.  
Sigma Partner-in-charge-of-
BusRadio Bob Davoli
Shirley Riley, Business
Manager was in fact [the
person] who pointed out the
discrepancies (embezzle0
ment) to me.  We immediate-
ly placed the employee
[BASD transportation
executive Scott Turpin] on
administrative leave and
investigated further.  Over the
course of several years he
had been making small
purchases and charging
them to the school district.  

He ended up resigning from
his position at the school in
lieu of a likely termination.  
He has made full restitution
as part of a plea bargain with
the prosecuting attorney.  

In response to this situation
we increased our efforts to
monitor revenue and
expenditures in all depart-
ments.  In direct response to
the situation in transportation
we separated the duties of
mechanic and supervisor so
supply inventories and
expenditures are monitored
independently. Expenditures
are also monitored and
approved by the business
department and
superintendent.  I believe we
have made significant
improvements in this area.

Total expenditures for
2008-09 were $10,273,203
plus $850,423 for food
service and athletics
combined.
Sean Kinney's Oct. 1, 2009
photo of
Monique Acevedo's
3rd trip to jail; she's at far
right, holding hands with her
husband, former supe and
former boss Randy Acevedo.
Hats off to Sean and
Wayne and their fellows
at the Keynoter.
 Here's
hoping the light from the
fire they've lit in Key West
will show the way for
others to follow.
CHICAGO PS CORRUPTION
TENNESSEAN
OP-ED
HERE
Suicide or
murder?
The death of Mayor
Daley's appointed school
board prez Michael Scott
By Peyton Wolcott
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 / 8:10
a.m.
NEWSWEEK COVER
Easy to determine that
Sarah Palin's the leading
conservative:  Look at
the personal attacks
By Peyton Wolcott
Thursday, November 19, 2009 / 12:02 a.m.
Sure, Sarah Palin's handlers should
never have agreed to an indoor photo
shoot of her in jogging togs -- running
along a woodland path would have
provided clearer context
than grey wall-to-wall
and not left her open to
liberal predators like
Newsweek editor Jon
Meacham -- but that
canary's already in the
tunnel.

Bottom line: Meacham's
decision to put Palin on
his cover looking like this -- something
he's never done to Obama or Biden or
Hillary or Pelosi -- is sexist.

There's also a suggestion of East
Coast liberal elitism making fun of a
working class woman who's made her
own way in the world, funny given Jon
Meacham's having extolled populist
Andrew Jackson in his new book,
American Lion.

Consider the first two lessons
Meacham says politicians should learn
from Jackson:


Developing . . .
Newsweek cover
Nov. 23, 2009
o  Talk to people outside
....the Washington bubble.
o  Position yourself as the
....voice of the many.
How would Jon Meacham do as his own cover girl?
If these two points don't describe Sarah Palin better than they do Barack Obama or Joe Biden
or John Kerry or even John McCain, what does?   Would Meacham recognize a living populist
if he saw her?

The liberal media and so -called centrists like Colin Powell picked our last Republican
candidate for us then turned around and supported Obama.  How would a Jon Meacham be
in a position to determine that Sarah Palin is "bad news for the GOP"?   Is he already trying to
stick us with another weak Republican presidential candidate in 2012?  No thanks, Jon.  You
can trot along now back to Manhattan in your pink bunny slippers.  
If  you're tired of sexist attacks on a
strong woman conservative, let
Newsweek know.  Send them an
email
or call editor Jon Meacham at
(212) 445-4000.
On a practical note, Newsweek may not be around much longer; it's thin and they're losing
so much money and their operating budget is so reduced they couldn't even hire their own
photographer to do the Palin cover.  Will the titillation it generated help them gin up counter
sales on the way to meeting their 2012 profitability goals?
As one unhappy reader posted at Newsweek's technically troubled comments page, "You
guys at Newsweek are pathetic.... Enjoy those last few circles around the drain."
On October 30, 2009 Newsweek parent The Washington Post Company
reported a "48% and 38% reduction in advertising revenue at Newsweek
for the third quarter and first nine months of 2009, respectively, resulting
from fewer ad pages at both the domestic and international editions. In
February 2009, Newsweek announced a circulation rate base reduction at
its domestic edition, from 2.6 million to 1.5 million, by January 2010."
'Gender
neutral'?
Top 10 reasons for tightening our
school districts' internal controls
Next time your schools sing the mo' money mantra, it's a
great opportunity to ask your superintendent about
checks & balances for taxes we've already given them
By Peyton Wolcott
Friday, November 20, 2009 / 7:30 a.m. -
Updated Monday, November 23, 2009 / 10:54 a.m..
Vice President Joe Biden recently told us that he expected a 10% loss rate for the federal
stimulus package.  Based on ten preventable losses listed below -- all recent -- it's hard to
imagine that our local public schools are faring much better.  For many of us, Mr. Biden's
estimate is at least 9% too much.  In these troubled economic times, the smartest and single
most effective pro-active step a local school superintendent can take is to post his/her
district's check register online.  What better way to tell your community:
"Look, we're such good stewards of your hard-
earned tax dollars that we're opening our books to
you.  We have nothing to hide, come take a look."
(2) and (3)  Preventable losses:  $21K+ and $81K+
St. Paul Public Schools (MN)
In charge:  then-superintendent Meria Carstarphen
In October 2009 James Allen Elwood, 63, pleaded guilty to
stealing more than $81,000 from St. Paul Public Schools.  How
he did it:  Then -SPPS employee Elwood used his access to and
control of the district;s Xcel Energy account to pay his own
residential bill and also by overpaying district bills then requesting
large refunds.  And in a separate incident, Sandra Jean Leis was
James Elwood (L);
Meria Carstarphen (R) is now
superintendent of
Austin ISD in Texas
(4)  Preventable loss:  $20,000+
La Joya ISD (TX)
In charge:  superintendent Alda T. Benavides
Jimmy Gonzalez (L);
Alda T. Benavides
Last week La Joya ISD police arrested Juarez-Lincoln High School
principal Jimmy Gonzalez after investigators found he allegedly
asked employees to file fraudulent time sheets then asked them to
give him the money, he also allegedly sold a computer owned by
the district to a former school employee.  In addition, officials are
charged yesterday with using her access to a district account to write 41 checks totaling over
$21,000 to herself.  
(SOURCES-- Mara Gottfried / Pioneer Press & Fox News)
Bernalillo Schools director of
finance Denise Irion (L), supe
Barbara Vigil-Lowder
According to an audit just released by the state legislative
finance committee, New Mexico school districts' poor financial
management has resulted in waste and abuse of public
money.  Auditors examined five districts and identified
questionable spending, including the purchase of a $91,000
tow truck by
Bernalillo Public Schools sold to another school
(10)  Preventable loss:  $82,000,000
Houston ISD (TX)
In charge:  then-superintendent Abe Saavedra
Whether the losses resulted from carelessness or embezzlement or anything in between, all
were preventable; whether for playground equipment or trustee travel or student fund raisers
or even millions for technology, all of these losses represent something lost to schoolchildren.
Come, take a look at ten situations where sums range from $400 to $82 million:
"Houston ISD schools have gone without at least $82 million for
technology upgrades while the district is under federal investigation for
questionable deals with computer equipment vendors.  Superintendent Terry
Grier said this week that the district is nearing a legal settlement so that
schools can get the funds for much-needed wiring, better Internet access,
new servers and more.  The pact, Grier said, would require HISD to pay the
Abe Saavedra
(9)  Preventable loss:  $7,500
Inglewood USD (CA)
In charge:  then-supe Pamela Short-Powell
Inglewood USD trustee Trina Williams, 49, was arrested
on November 10, 2009 on charges that she"allegedly
overcharged the district $7,500 for training and travel
expense, according to the L.A. County district attorney’s
office.  An audit by the Los Angeles County Office of Education
submitted in July exposed the alleged crime.  Williams, who
was arrested November 10 by investigators from the DA's
Trina Williams (L); Pamela Short-
Powell (R) has worked at Pasadena
USD (CA), Okalahom City Public
Schools, and several
501(c) 's
office, will be arraigned next month on one felony count of misappropriation of public funds.
According to Deputy District Attorney Juliet Schmidt Williams is expected to enter a plea at her
December 4 arraignment at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse to one felony count of
misappropriation of public funds during the period June 13, 2007, and Sept. 28, 2008.  If
convicted, Williams, who is free on $25,000 bail, faces a maximum four-year state prison
term.
(SOURCES--Robert Faturechi / The Los Angeles TImes & The Daily Breeze)  
(8)  Preventable loss:  $130,000+  
Kenston Local School DIstrict (OH)
In charge:  superintendent Robert A. 'Bob' Lee
federal government about $850,000 to make up for the alleged wrongdoing, which involved
former employees accepting gifts from vendors. In exchange, the district no longer would be
frozen out of the federal technology grant program called e-rate."
 (SOURCE--Ericka Mellon / The
Houston Chronicle)
district less than a year later for $75,000; auditors also questioned the purchase of three
sport utility vehicles from an out-of-state dealer for use by employees.
Thirty-year Kenston Local School District front office employee
Geraldine Kanieski has been arrested after being charged with
writing 86 checks to herself totaling $130,000 on the district's
checking account then cashing them.  No one noticed because
Geraldine Kanieski (L), Bob Lee
(5) and (6) Preventable losses:  $400 and $244,992
Hoboken Public Schools (NJ)
In charge:  then-supe John R, 'Jack' Raslowsky II
& then-board prez Frank 'Pupie' Raia
(L) Jack Raslowsky,
Frank 'Pupie' Raia
(L) Lynne M. Wight, CPA,
and Terry N. Fralick
TAKEAWAY: LJISD's 66-page
2009-2010 District Improvement
Plan doesn't mention
"accountability" or "internal
controls" or money" or "taxes" or
"expenses"; hopefully, in light of the
negativity the arrest has brought to
the district internal controls will be
listed in next year's DIP -- and local
police will take over the
investigation.
ation member -- wasn't sufficient to promote enough team
building and collegiality at the high school to ward off
undesirable staff behaviors:  All of the reported incidents
occurred in the face of LJISD's posted job description for
district principals (pay $84K-116K) which cites fostering
"collegiality and team building among staff; encourage their
active involvement in the decision-making process" as a job
duty and responsibility.  
(SOURCES--JaredTaylor/Brownsville Herald
& 2004
TSPRA Star Awards & 2009-2010 La Joya ISD Action Plan.)
Did the success of reality
show "Cake Boss" awaken
Hoboken's' civic awareness?
clear of vendor/lobbyist enticements unlike another well-intentioned reforming mom, Liz
Gallagher, arrested in September in a
federal corruption case on charges of using her
Broward County, Florida school board seat to award plum contracts in the district's
construction program.   
(SOURCES--NJ.com, Hudson Reporter and The Miami-HYerald)
CHECK REGISTERS
Fox News mention
FAQ    +     ARCHIVES  +        FOLLOW THE MONEY       +   CHECK REGISTER INFO    +    STATE & LOCAL      + GOVERNANCE / VENDORS
as he called
this one of
Gov. Sarah
Palin?
Would this
Newsweek cover
of editor
Jon Meacham
meet his own
definition of
looking into other instances including missing student fund raiser monies.  Apparently paying
a full-time PR pro -- Lizzette Martinez, an award-winning Texas School Public Relations Associ-
Is retired supe Ray Feick -- already collecting
taxpayer-funded Pennsylvania retirement checks each
month -- worth an
extra $8,000? Plus
$600 per day?
By Peyton Wolcott
Monday, November 30, 2009 / 2:03 a.m.
Ray Feick, acting superintendent of Owen J. Roberts School District
in Pottstown, Pennsylvania
(PHOTO--John Strickler/Montgomery News)
This question has special
meaning when you realize that
another retired superintendent of
about the same age, M. Joseph
Brady, is working in Minersville,
Pennsylvania, less than an hour
away from
Ray Feick's gig in
Pottstown --
for free.
M. Joseph Brady on the
job in Minersville
(PHOTO--
Jason Sipes/Altoona Mirror)
Folks at Owen J. Roberts School District in Pottstown have two bones to pick with Ray.
One, he claims he was guaranteed an $8,000 fee for finding the district's new
superintendent -- while collecting a $600 per diem plus expenses as interim supe -- and
two, the new supe Ray's found was approved by a school board the majority of whom
will be gone in a week.  Should Ray keep the $8,000?  You decide:
OJR board awards Feick $8,000 bonus
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
By Laura Catalano, Special to The Pottstown Mercury

SOUTH COVENTRY — Acting once again against the wishes of very vocal members of the community,
the Owen J. Roberts School Board voted 5-4 Monday to give acting Superintendent Ray Feick an $8,000
bonus for his work in conducting a superintendent search.  Feick, who was hired by the board in August
at a $600 per day rate, said he was promised the $8,000 before being appointed. It had not previously
been voted on, and several members of the board said they were not informed of that promise.  Neither
Feick nor any board members indicated during numerous discussions surrounding the search that he
would be paid extra for it.

Board member William LaCoff said he believed the bonus was illegal.

During the meeting, which was attended by about 200 people, more than 20 spoke out against the bonus.
The crowd was often angry and unruly, shouting periodically for board member Debbie Bissland to
resign.   They applauded, sometimes at length, as audience members spoke critically of Feick's bonus
and of the board majority.  "You should be ashamed of yourselves," North Coventry resident Lisa
Wasson said to the board majority. "I hope living in this community has become difficult for you because
you have made it difficult for the people who live here."  The crowd stood and cheered after her
comments.

Speakers once again chastised the board for last week's hiring of Joel T. DiBartolomeo as the new
district superintendent. The superintendent search has been widely criticized by both the teachers union
and district residents who believe the board rushed a decision in order to install a superintendent before
the six members leave office on Dec. 7.  DiBartolomeo was present and spoke briefly to the audience.  
"Moving forward, I will do my best to begin a dialogue that's respectful and thoughtful on behalf of the
kids," he told the crowd.

His words did little to quell the anger in the room, much of which was directed at Feick's bonus.  "To
accept this $8,000 bonus, it's not right," said East Coventry resident Nancy Dempsey. "I hope you have
some guilt taking this money. Most of us can't afford our taxes going up."   Board member Barbara
McMeekin also appealed directly to Feick, asking that he forego the bonus. Teachers' union President
Karin Suzadail requested that he donate it to the OJR Education Foundation, which provides funding for
educational programs.

Warwick Township resident Jim Miller stated that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association would
have performed a more extensive search for $11,000. "I don't feel you merit $8,000," he said to Feick.   
He pointed out that by eliminating the bonus, along with a $9,000 forensic audit approved last week, the
board could have "had a search that was definitely considered impartial."  The board voted 5-4 to
approve the bonus, with all members of the board majority approving it including board President Edward
Kerner, along with Bissland, John Dutton, Eugene Endress and Karen Zelley. Opposed were McMeekin,
Rosemary Bilinski, LaCoff and Eric Scheib.

One resident asked if Feick had been aware he'd be receiving an $8,000 bonus for the superintendent
search. Feick didn't respond during the public comment period, but later McMeekin repeated the
question.   "Prior to my coming here, I was asked if I would do a superintendent search for $8,000. It was
approved prior to my employment," Feick replied. He said the $8,000 was not voted on publicly when he
was hired because it was never put on the agenda for approval. The only payment that was approved
was the $600 per diem wage.  In response to the criticism from the crowd, Feick stressed that he had
worked many hours on the search. He also stated that surrounding school districts have paid much more
for consultants to perform superintendent searches, such as Great Valley School District, which paid
$25,000.  "I honestly believe I did exactly what I was assigned to do. I do not feel one bit I failed in doing
my job," Feick said. "It's unfortunate that when I was approved (the bonus) wasn't on the agenda."

LaCoff called the bonus illegal.    "You said it was too bad about this bonus not being on the agenda
when you were hired," LaCoff said. "Too bad for you. Paying you this is illegal. This was a secret deal."
(Continued here.)