Books or Wine?
An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today is right on the point in discussing the inherent failures of school districts, in particular the Riverview Gardens School District, to keep track of spending by staff and administration.
A Post-Dispatch analysis of the district’s accounting records found
that school board members and district employees spent at least $1.7
million on travel in less than four years. That’s more than some
districts twice its size spend on travel. The district sent almost 600
teachers, staff members, principals, administrators and board members
on more than 100 trips to at least 60 cities, from the Lake of the
Ozarks to New York to San Francisco to Cape Town, South Africa.
All of this spending was discovered not by an internal audit of the district, but by two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters. Some people may say travel costs are needed to help with training and staff development, yet how does wine help administration officials run the district better?
District guidelines limit meal expenses to $40 a day, but at times,
school leaders enjoyed $8 glasses of Pinot Grigio, $28 entrees of rock
shrimp and $10 servings of creme brulée. In one case, a principal and a
school board member billed the district for $50 pedicures.
This shows that when districts do not watch spending or enforce their own limits, the district wastes taxpayers’ money on frivolous items that have nothing to do with education and, in the end, the students and taxpayers are on the short end.