City Controller Alan Butkovitz Released the School District’s Student Activity Fund

Audit Date: April 7, 2009
Audit Categories
  • Performance
Controller: Alan Butkovitz

Executive Summary


For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2009

Contact: Harvey M. Rice
(215) 686-6696

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Butkovitz’ Audit Finds School District Employees Mishandling Student Activity Funds
Improper documentation for purchases including pilsner glasses and champagne flutes

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the Philadelphia School District 2008 Student Activity Funds audit that found all 15 high schools that were reviewed, had failed to comply with the School District’s rules and procedures for student activity funds. During the 2008 school year, approximately $5.3 million was in the Student Activity Funds.

At Edward Bok High School, proper documentation was missing for various payments made to vendors and purchases over $4,000 were not put out for bid as required by School District guidelines. One payment totaling $5,799 included the purchase of 300 pilsner glasses and 300 champagne flutes as well as a $416 late fee charge for a payment that was ten months late.

“The disturbing aspect of our review is that we found 100 percent non-compliance in the sample schools we audited. This would lead us to conclude that all Student Fund accounts throughout the School District are being used for inappropriate purchases as well as having limited supporting backup documentation,” Butkovitz said.

“This lack of oversight and accountability invites fraud and the misuse of students’ and parents’ money,” he said.

“Our audit revealed significant breakdowns that can allow for fraud and other irregularities to go undetected,” said Butkovitz. “With the absence of bid documents, we do not know if the school made purchases that were for the best services or if payments were made to friends and relatives.”

A purchase amounting to $4,200 for 400 shirts was made through Bok’s physical education account. The vendor, South Street Embroidery, only delivered 159 shirts. The payment voucher wasn’t approved until 22 days after the shirts were delivered. There was never an accounting for the other 241 shirts.

Other questionable purchases at Bok High School with either no bid documents provided or other missing documentation include:

* $3,740 was charged to a culinary account with no explanation or supporting documentation as to what was purchased,

* $1,169 was used from the school store account for purchases at Best Buy for the PSSA program, but there was no list of students who received these items as required by the “manual,” and

• $1,141 was used from the athletic account to pay for sports equipment that was purchased three years ago.

At Central High School funds from the restricted Student ID account were used for a variety of prohibited purchases including:

• $1,219 for refreshments
• $822 for walkie talkies and supplies
• $1,271 for copiers, printers software and supplies
• $280 for awards
• $344 for subscriptions

The General Account (which is the old name for the student activity fund account) at Central which is supposed to be used for the welfare of the student body was used for the following:

• $5,860 to purchase office equipment
• $440 for staff refreshments
• $550 for staff breakfast
• $14,300 for salaries

“Student activity funds should be properly used for activities that benefit the majority of students to better their educational experience,” said Butkovitz. “Mishandling funds for questionable purchases and not supplying proper documentation and bid contracts puts all students in jeopardy of losing funds for activities that many rely on.”

“As a result of our audit, the School District’s Audit Department is investigating this activity and will report their findings to the School District’s Inspector General. Our office will be monitoring the process and will provide updates.”

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