Northeast Times

NE schools fare well in inventory check

Every year, the city con­trol­ler does a ran­dom check of equip­ment in­vent­or­ies and petty cash ac­counts at city schools, and every year, finds that stuff is miss­ing.

In spring 2012, City Con­trol­ler Alan Butkovitz’s aud­it­ors de­term­ined $14,000 in petty cash was un­ac­coun­ted for and equip­ment worth al­most $200,000 was gone or mis­placed. The res­ults of the 2012 audit were re­leased last week.

The North­east’s Woo­drow Wilson and Aus­tin Mee­han middle schools were among six schools whose petty cash ac­counts were ex­amined, said the con­trol­ler’s first deputy, Har­vey Rice.

“Woo­drow Wilson was per­fect,” Rice said, and ad­ded that Mee­han had $2 more than it was sup­posed to have.

Four schools else­where in the city were miss­ing about $14,000. One school’s petty cash ac­count was $5,000 in the red, Rice said, and the prin­cip­al was held ac­count­able.

In April and May 2012, aud­it­ors vis­ited 11 schools to double-check their in­vent­ory re­ports. In total, equip­ment and fur­niture worth $196,000 was miss­ing. In the three North­east schools in­cluded in the audit, just about everything was where it was sup­posed to be.

At Baldi Middle School on Ver­ree Road in Bustleton, an $800 laptop com­puter was miss­ing, Rice said, but it was loc­ated and re­turned.

At Samuel Fels High School in Ox­ford Circle, some cam­era equip­ment worth about $700 couldn’t be found. A pi­ano and a gui­tar amp that were on an in­vent­ory list were miss­ing, but a pi­ano and an amp that wer­en’t in­vent­or­ied or tagged as dis­trict prop­erty were at the school.

At Hard­ing Middle School on Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue in Frank­ford, ac­cord­ing to Rice, ath­let­ic equip­ment, a com­puter, a copi­er and a pi­ano were not in place. Rice said the total value of the miss­ing equip­ment was about $3,600.

The total un­ac­coun­ted-for gear the con­trol­ler re­por­ted rep­res­ents only a small frac­tion of what the school dis­trict owns. Rice said the 11 schools whose in­vent­or­ies were checked had the highest val­ues of fur­niture and equip­ment. Aud­it­ors got in­vent­or­ies and ran­domly checked to see if items on those lists were present.

At the new West Phil­ade­phia High School, for ex­ample, the con­trol­ler’s aud­it­ors couldn’t find mu­sic­al in­stru­ments worth $5,150, a snow blower worth $945, a com­puter worth $1,379 and of­fice fur­niture val­ued at $3,000.

Butkovitz said items were lis­ted as miss­ing be­cause of bad re­cord-keep­ing, be­cause they were re­moved from schools without per­mis­sion or a new dis­trict com­pu­ter­ized in­vent­ory sys­tem didn’t suf­fi­ciently ac­count for equip­ment that should have been de­leted from in­vent­ory.

“De­leted in­vent­ory,” Rice said, is gear that was des­troyed, stolen or ob­sol­ete.

In a Ju­ly 2 news re­lease, Butkovitz said the school dis­trict “is not prop­erly safe­guard­ing and ac­count­ing for its $222.6 mil­lion fur­niture and equip­ment in­vent­ory.”

“They’re not tak­ing this ser­i­ously,” Rice said, stress­ing that equip­ment – bought with tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars – goes miss­ing each year.

Schools spokes­man Fernando Gal­lard said the dis­trict has had prob­lems keep­ing track of its in­vent­ory. The dis­trict in­stalled an elec­tron­ic in­vent­ory sys­tem two years ago, he said

“Our hope is that things will im­prove,” Gal­lard said.  “The chal­lenge com­ing up next year is that we will not have the people in the school to use the sys­tem,” he  said.

The dis­trict lost many of the em­ploy­ees trained to use the in­vent­ory sys­tem when it laid off al­most 3,800 Ju­ly 1.

ldquo;Next year, it might look even worse,” he said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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