A front-page article in the Dallas Morning News really caught my eye this morning. Investigators have found that Dallas school district credit cards have been used to buy many things other than your typical textbooks, furniture, and school supplies.
See if you can guess which of these items were paid for using a DISD credit card --
a) an iPod for $399
b) a "buckaroo cowboy" throw blanket for $139
c) a vibrating leather seat cushion for $199.95
d) a series of lap dances at Silver City Cabaret for $160
**Answers at the bottom of the post.
It would seem that the district does not have a very good program of accountability in place when it comes to credit card purchases. According to the article, there are around 1200 credit cards actively in use, and the card users basically have carte blanche privileges. They are supposed to keep their receipts, but they are not required to turn these receipts in to any sort of central storage facility. They do not have to get their purchases pre-approved, and the district does not often ask to review the purchase receipts.
In a tabulation presented in the article, charges totaled over $42 million between January of 2004 and March of 2006. In a somewhat related note, I can claim to have spent under $500 over the past three school years on items for my classroom and my students -- on my own personal credit card, that is. I am not one of the fortunate "magic plastic" possessors on DISD's payroll. Not like this local high school teacher, who spent over $2000 in 2004, a total which includes that 400 buck iPod. The iPod, according to him, was purchased to be a prize for the best-behaved student in his class that year.
HUH??!?? Giving away an iPod for good behavior? Color me extremely cheap then, as I tend to favor novelty pencils and plastic water bottles, which typically put me around two or three dollars out-of-pocket...
A related story in the paper singled out one individual, a secretary in the district who reportedly has used a district credit card to spend $383,788 over a two-year period. Oh yeah, and she's also conveniently lost most of the receipts. What is this, Brewster's Millions?
This article raises several serious questions in my mind. Number one, where is the accountability in the district? Number two, how do these people sleep at night, knowing that they are ripping off local taxpayers? And most importantly, how do I get MY hands on one of these precious pieces of plastic??
**The iPod, the cushion, and the throw blanket are all are real charges, according to the news article. The lap dances at Silver City are not real -- they actually were purchased at The Gentlemen's Club.