Thursday, June 19, 2008

Teacher allegedly stole school funds.

Yesterday I reported on the need for education financial transparency. The article below appeared in the Union Leader and further highlights the need for education financial transparency in all school districts. If check registers were posted online it may deter incidents like this from occurring in the future.


Pelham teacher surrenders on theft charge
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent

PELHAM – An elementary school teacher placed herself into police custody yesterday morning after authorities issued a warrant for her arrest for allegedly stealing money from a school fund.

Police charged Lisa K. Harris, 50, of Pelham, with a felony - theft by unauthorized taking - after an investigation indicated that Harris had allegedly transferred $4,600.00 from the Pelham Elementary Sunshine Fund into her personal Sovereign Bank account.

According to school principal Alicia LaFrance, the theft came to her attention in late April when members of the Sunshine Committee -- a group of faculty and staff who meet regularly and voluntarily collect contributions to fund staff events as well as purchase flowers for those who have had a family member pass away during the school year -- alerted her to money missing from their account.

LaFrance contacted the Superintendent of schools, as well as the school business manager, before confronting Harris. An instruction assistant who worked with special needs children, Harris resigned in early May. LaFrance forwarded all information to the police soon after.

Police began investigating the missing funds in late May and used a search warrant to determine the ownership of the bank account the money had been electronically transferred into between May 16 and May 28. A warrant was issued and Harris turned herself in at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Harris had served as the president and treasurer of the Sunshine Committee. It was her first year as a member of the organization.

LaFrance, who had worked with Harris for four years, described her as "well-liked by the staff" and "very friendly."

"I think [the staff] felt very angry and violated, that someone amongst themselves would take from them or steal from them," she said. "There are certain members of the school who lost family members during the school year who were very saddened by what happened, that money had been taken away from their grieving families."

The shortage of funds would make it more difficult for the school to hold annual end-of-the-year events for leaving staff, but according to LaFrance they were doing their best to make ends meet. The ordeal has tightened the coordination and management of the fund in the future, she said.

"We're making sure that more than one member of the committee is signing checks and balancing the account and the committee is meeting more often with monthly financial reports," she said.

According to Lt. Gary Fisher, this is not the first time a town employee has stolen from town funds.

"We had a rec center director several years ago who was embezzaling funds," he said. "It doesn't happen often, but it's not uncommon."

Harris was booked without incident and was released on a $5,000.00 recognizance bail. She will appear before the New Hampshire District Court in Salem on Jul. 14.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Board Explains Tuition Issues

This week's Argus Champion reported on the tuition issues within Croydon school district. The article is not online so you will need to pick up a copy of the Argus Champion to read the full story.

This incident has proven that we need full education financial transparency within the Croydon School District. This can be done by posting Croydon's check register online. Peyton Wolcott's website is reporting that 190 districts within 14 states are posting their check registers online revealing at least 46 billion dollars in educational financial transparency.

In the Argus Champion article school board Chairman George Caccavaro said ".....Everyone has a right to know what is going on...." when referring to the recent tuition issue. He also stated "We've not covering anything up."

Linda Schultz, George Caccavaro and Carol Marsh need to show they want true education financial transparency for the Croydon School district and for the taxpayers of Croydon, all contracts and check registers should be posted online for taxpayer review. If this school board will not do it hopefully fiscally responsible individuals will be elected who will do this in the future.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Do you much is spent on public education?

How much do you think was spent by our state, local and federal governments on all public elementary and secondary schools in 2006 in the United States?

A. 506 million dollars
B. 5.2. billion dollars
C. 50 billion dollars
D .5206 trillion dollars

The answer is D .5206 trillion dollars or 520.6 billion dollars. This is more money than the non-military discretionary spending of the federal government during 2006. In other words this is all the money spent by the federal government excluding entitlements, the military and interest payments on debt.

Hat tip to Pete the finance guy for directing us to Ross Perot's website . Visit Ross Perot's website for more very informative information regarding the education spending crisis.