Audits reveal waste in Abbott spending

Published on 12 May 2008 at 9:45 am. 6 Comments.
Filed under Local.

by Ted Sherman and John Mooney/The Star-Ledger

New audits of New Jersey’s most troubled school systems question more than $83 million in spending by the heavily state-subsidized districts — from excessive travel expenses and legal fees to Christmas parties and food.

While 71 percent of all purchase orders examined were found to be “reasonable,” the auditors concluded more than 25 cents of every dollar spent by the districts was unnecessary, excessive or lacking documentation.

The audits looked at all 31 of the state’s neediest school districts — known as “Abbott districts” — which have been coming under increasing fiscal scrutiny in recent years. Overall, the Abbott districts — serving about 275,000 students — spent nearly $4 billion this school year, with about $3.1 billion funded by the state.

One school district, Pleasantville in Atlantic County, is the focus of an ongoing federal criminal investigation, while at least one other, Asbury Park, is being probed by the state Attorney General’s Office, officials confirmed.

Auditors reviewed more than 30,000 purchases totaling nearly $290 million in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years — everything from textbook contracts and teaching materials to cell phones and hotel bills — to determine whether amounts spent were excessive, benefited students and were properly approved.

The state Department of Education released the audits after The Star-Ledger and other newspapers requested them under the Open Public Records Act.

The audits of all 31 districts can be found at nj.gov/education/finance/kw/

6 Comments to ‘Audits reveal waste in Abbott spending’:

  1. Yesterdays news on 12 May 2008 at 11:18 am: 1

    So? What else is new? As if honesty and accountability could be expected from the state government. In this case, it’s the state supreme court which ordered the spending that has put upon the citizen more effectively than legislators or governors

  2. Citizen on 16 May 2008 at 2:37 pm: 2

    Well once again the Republicans bitch about this instead of offering solutions… there are 316 public high schools in New Jersey … We should start combinining districts, and using sending-recieving agreements more readily in the operations of our state government.

  3. neosporin on 16 May 2008 at 3:05 pm: 3

    And the big unspeakable truth is that when you’re talking about wasteful spending, and minorities are involved, you can’t really talk about it without being accused of being racist.

  4. Real Citizen on 19 May 2008 at 11:32 am: 4

    Citizen,
    You are expressing convoluted logic. Asking why the Republicans are complaining and not offering solutions is a false premise. The Democrats are in total control and are totally responsible. Offering solutions is not the same as being able to implement the solutions. Drawing attention to the problem is just about all they can do.

  5. neosporin on 23 May 2008 at 7:33 am: 5

    Haven’t you by now figured out the approach? Do nothing about something important for 3 3/4 years (or encourage it), then demand other people come up with the ’solutions,’ then make a few grandstand plays of implementing or doing something right befor elections, brag about it, and then go right back to doing nothing.
    Local politicians only make an effort for a short period when it’s time to vote. The rest of the time, it’s wine-and-cheese politics as usual.

  6. Look in the mirror on 28 May 2008 at 10:38 am: 6

    I have yet to see the Democrat that proposed leaner government or intelligent choices to the out-of-control school spending, and they’re the ones in the majority

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