Another School Mess: Hundreds Of Items Lost, Guards Overpaid!

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

It is just the news The Broward School Board didn’t need while it was trying to pave the way for a new huge bond issue:

Over $1 million in  financial mismanagement has been uncovered.

First, Board members found out that the transportation department has misplaced $990,692 in equipment.

Among the items missing:

Ford Explorers, a Bobcat front end loader, over one hundred costly two way radios, six huge generators, a fork lift, computers, printers and even a defibrillator.

Then, the Board discovered that the school system’s special investigative unit had been overpaying a private security firm.  Auditors say at least $86,460 is owed the schools because of SIU’s mistake.

Ironically the SIU responsible with policing school employees, including scrutinizing the way they spend money.

It is an embarrassment to the Board and Superintendent Robert Runcie.

A top goal of Runcie and the Board is to prove the days of fiscal bungling and misspending have ended.  The misspending and corruption that caused some of it prompted a stinging statewide Grand Jury report a few years ago.

The findings by school system auditors released this week showed there is still a lot of work to do.

Charlotte Greenbarg was stunned.  She is veteran school system watchdog and a member of the Board’s Audit Committee, which heard the report this week.

“I wrote across the top of my papers ‘Anarchy’,” she said.

In the department which handles school buses the mistake was massive.  There were 332 items that transportation supervisors could not find.

“No explanation was given. It’s the way the transportation (division) was run.  Those people have been unaccountable for years,” Greenbarg said.

Chief Auditor Patrick Reilly told the Audit Committee that he doesn’t know what happened. The items could be misplaced, mislabeled, disposed of or stolen.

The missing items included everything from an Apple IBook computer, which cost taxpayers $1,531.50, to two four-door Ford Explorers XLT 4X2 trucks that the auditors priced at $20,857 apiece.

There were six large generators unaccounted that cost from $80,320 for one manufactured by Caterpillar to $27,320 for a Whisperwatt Isuzu Diesel.

Some items were specialized: $6,142 worth of Nitrogen; $1,246 of cooler oil; $2,297 in exhauster system clamps and pipes and a $2,995 car vacuum.

School system auditors uncovered that the equipment was missing in a routine property audit completed May 18, 2012.

Auditors demanded to know where the missing property was.  Their requests were ignored by transportation officials until this month.

The Audit Committee gave the transportation department another month to find at least some of the merchandise.

The school police are in a different situation: paying too much to U. S. Security Associates.

U. S. Security Associates was hired to guard the School Board headquarters and various school bus facilities.

Reilly said that SIU officials had “inadequate internal control procedures.”

Because SIU failed to monitor its contract, guards were allowed work more hours than the contract permitted and unnecessary overtime was paid.

SIU also continued to pay the firm after its contract ended and had no time records of when guards worked, auditors said in their report.

The school’s Chief of Police David Golt blamed the former SIU director for having insufficient safeguards and promised to improve procedures in the future.

Greenbarg said she was optimistic that the administrative shake-ups that Superintendent Robert Runcie instituted a year ago would eventually show improvement.

But Greenbarg is representative of many voters. She has been very critical of the School Board’s financial missteps.

Whether these voters will back a bond issue, which could come as earlier as next year, remains to be seen.

 XXXXX

Just two out of 11 pages of missing items from the transportation department (click to enlarge):

 

 



20 Responses to “Another School Mess: Hundreds Of Items Lost, Guards Overpaid!”

  1. Just Beachy says:

    Nothing new here. The issue is not the system process for accountability. It boils down or in this case, up to the person responsible for assuring it is being adhered to and used properly.

  2. Just Beachy says:

    Check what the missing items were coded to when purchased. Often grant funding, Title 1, etc., is the culprit as obsolete items can get lost in that reassignment process and are not removed from inventories which then seem to indicate they are missing when they were actually obsolete and no longer in use.

  3. Just Beachy says:

    Same with donated items.

  4. Independent says:

    At least the Ford Explorers have titles/plates that can be traced to find out where they went (we hope). That may be another news story.

  5. No Excuses says:

    @Just Beachy makes excuses like ones at every School Board meeting.
    Ford Explorers are not obsolete items, nor are six generators. There is no excuse for not knowing since May where these items are located.

  6. Gavin Alford says:

    When is this going to end? Are these folks untouchable? I thought the last bunch of crooks, I mean school board members were bad. It’s no wonder Florida ranks at the bottom in education with shenanigans like this.

  7. you wonder says:

    You wonder why Tallahassee is hesitant to give Broward Schools more money?

  8. Real Deal says:

    Unless each and every one of those items is found, the last person on record having custody should be prosecuted. A cover-up is underway if the items are not recovered and no charges filed. One or the other must happen otherwise this matter is being handled honestly. There is no such thing as losing a Ford Explorer or a Caterpillar, a radio which can often be located when turned on, or any of those other items.

  9. OJ Simpson says:

    Runice is good friends with AL Cowlings,he must have the white explorer, you know just in case Al has to get Runcie out of town quickly.

  10. Kevin says:

    Al Cowling…. there’s a name I haven’t heard in a while.

  11. Concerned in Broward says:

    As a TAXPAYER and a 30+ year resident of Broward County, I am appalled to read “The school’s Chief of Police David Golt blamed the former SIU director for having insufficient safeguards and promised to improve procedures in the future.” The previous director that Chief Golt is referring to has been gone for over 2 years! Mr. Golt has been in that position the entire time and it is obvious he has failed to even review the contracts in question. At what point in time do we hold Chief Golt accountable for his actions or lack thereof?” As a Chief and department head is he not responsible for all areas in his department? To me it appears very obvious that this man LACKS the knowledge, skills, and abilities to continue to hold his position and should be dealt with accordingly! Let’s stop the blame game – Mr. Runcie needs to start throwing the trash out NOW!!!

  12. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    And this shocks some of you(Ms.Greenbard). i mean its the same missing crap every year. And you being on the Audit bd. there Charlotte i mean what’s going on down there? Everything from cars, to computers, etc-buy your own, no steal from the ‘taxpayer’. Audit every dept. Find this crap, and who ever has this “stuff” take them out in cuffs. Enough of this.

  13. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Hey Walsh;

    Weren’t you arrested on multiple occasions for Grand Larceny?

    Seems to me, you’d be the last person we should take advice from when it comes to respecting the property of others.

    Ain’t that right Convict?

  14. Fly on the Wall says:

    It isn’t just the Transportation Department for missing equipment or SIU for overpaying for services and no accountability. It is a pervasive problem within the procedures of the District. Why isn’t there a procedure for assignment of property and then accountability for that individual to provide information as to its disposition on a centralized computer system, not just in that department so these lists can be read only by upper administrators. Until someone signs their name to be responsible this will continue to go on as it has for more than nearly 30 years.

    As to SIU, contracts and pay requisitions are initially signed by the person responsible for that contract and approving those pay requisitions. Where are the procedures that require time cards and documentation to support those pay requisitions? At least two individuals should have reviewed this information before it was approved for payment. Hopefully, someone did a background check on the security guards who were subcontracted. If we had security guards, why were so many bus batteries stolen over the holidays, which happened last year, too? Also, aren’t there any security cameras in these areas?

  15. Transparent says:

    So why do we have SIU if they can’t do their job .? Lets get BSO TO LOOK INTO THIS ! Again another way the tax payers are taken advantage of and money taken from our Who is responsible for this huge waste and get rid of them . Us tax payers in Broward County are demanding accountability and Runcie is the man to take care of this , we have faith in him .
    Again we hear the name Galt !!!

  16. CutThe Chord says:

    For the police chief to blame the former director is pitiful. Why is the “chief” called a chief and not a director? Because it was important to him to convince the board that changing titles and the name of the unit is far more important than being respsonsible for what is acutally going. Cars with blue lights that are not needed..$50k bill to the tax payers..New guns for SIU personnel who already have bought and paid for their own guns..$30k bill for the tax payers…Dont blame the hard working dedicated people who work at SIU for the mismanagement of one person.

  17. ^^^^ says:

    What exactly do the hard working dedicated people who work at SIU do? And shame on Golt…he has been in his position for two years!

  18. sick and tired says:

    Its obvious that Golt has to go, the dept ran very smoothly under the previous “Director”, its a shame that one man can destroy one of the best units in Broward County in order to serve his own ego! Just look at the people he has hired since he’s been in SIU. One with a background that no other dept would touch and he was’nt even qualified for the position. The other with no internal investigative background. The men and women from SIU have had enough and are sick and tired of having they’re hands tied from doing their jobs.

  19. Confused says:

    What exactly do the men and women of SIU do and who hires these individuals? How many people are employed in the SIU department? Perhaps an overabundance of employees there? Time for change!

  20. Jim Kale from Villages says:

    Hey Folks

    This is nothing new in public sector – custodians get six figures, secret service agents hires prostitutes using tax money

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