August 26, 2016 |
In the latest sign of increased scrutiny of charter schools, Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday the creation of a division within the state Department of Education dedicated to assisting and improving such schools. Establishing the Division of Charter Schools "will allow us to maximize our resources to not only ensure charters are being properly supported, but that they are being held accountable to taxpayers," the governor said in a statement. Privately managed but publicly funded, charter schools have exploded in the commonwealth.
August 5, 2016 |
By 2021, the Philadelphia School District will have a $600 million budget deficit, City Controller Alan Butkovitz said Wednesday - and he's asking Mayor Kenney to give his office more auditing authority over the district to "avoid fiscal calamity. " Under current rules, Butkovitz said, his office can review only the district's financial statements. He wants to be able to conduct performance reviews, and look more closely at how the district spends money and grants contracts. "We just need the authorization to cut through the red tape and inspect all of the pages in their books," the controller said in the statement.
May 5, 2016 |
The State of New Jersey has permitted a single contractor to dominate the marketplace for online tax-lien auctions without requiring competitive bidding or conducting any meaningful oversight, an independent investigation has found. The vendor and its partner reaped $1.7 million from municipalities to conduct the sales in 2014 and 2015 alone, a revenue stream that is projected to grow, according to a report released Tuesday by the State Commission of Investigation. Every municipality in New Jersey is required to conduct a sale at least once a year to try to "recoup the value of liens filed for delinquent property taxes and for unpaid fees involving municipal services such as water/sewer and garbage collection," the report said.
April 17, 2016 |
Budget and staff cuts have left the state Department of Environmental Protection ill-equipped for its role in monitoring the installation of tens of thousands of miles of natural-gas pipelines over the next decade, DEP Secretary John Quigley said Friday. After what Quigley described as "years of relentless budget cuts," the department has 671 fewer positions than it did seven years ago, an estimated 20 percent decrease. Of these lost jobs, 441 were permit writers and pipeline inspectors, he said.
April 14, 2016 |
The Philadelphia School District's charter school office is too small to oversee the 83 charter schools in the city, state Auditor General Eugene A. DePasquale said in a report released Tuesday morning. "By failing to have sufficient staffing and resources to adequately perform and document routine oversight measures, the district is unable to verify the validity of hundreds of millions of dollars it is paying to charter schools in tuition payments," DePasquale wrote in the performance audit.
January 3, 2016
Mike Oxley, 71, a former U.S. representative who helped write landmark antifraud legislation following a wave of corporate scandals that brought down Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., died Friday in his sleep in McLean, Va., after suffering from non-small-cell lung cancer, a type of lung cancer seen in nonsmokers, said his wife, Patricia Oxley. Mr. Oxley was chairman of the Lung Cancer Alliance board of directors. Though his cancer was a shock to the nonsmoker, he took the diagnosis in stride, said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, the alliance's president and CEO. Mr. Oxley "never lost his irreverent sense of humor and his distinctive laugh that could be heard throughout the office whenever he came by for a visit," Ambrose said.
September 18, 2015 |
Philadelphia's regular public school buildings are so run down that the cost to repair them is estimated at $4 billion. Those buildings aren't likely to get face-lifts with the School District limping from funding crisis to funding crisis. In contrast, the city's charter schools have received $500 million in taxpayer-backed bonds for new or improved buildings. The gaping inequity exists in part because the legislature has not properly updated the state's charter school law since it was passed.
August 29, 2015 |
For the second time in a decade, Cheyney University has failed to properly manage financial aid that it awards students, and as a result may owe the U.S. Department of Education more than $29 million. Errors were found in nearly 85 percent of about 4,400 financial aid records reviewed from 2011 to 2014, according to a report released Thursday by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university, one of 14 in the system, could not provide high school transcripts for 45 percent of the students who received aid during that period, the system said.
August 6, 2015 |
Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz is calling on the Water Revenue Bureau to increase oversight of its process for adjusting bills, arguing that its system invites abuse by employees. Bureau employees made $110 million worth of adjustments to water bills in the 2014 fiscal year without authorization from a supervisor, according to a report Butkovitz's office released Tuesday. Those adjustments were not necessarily improper, as some employees are allowed to make some changes, including canceling and refunding, without formal approval from a superior.
July 14, 2015
THE FIRING OF teacher Margie Winters by Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion on the basis of Winters' marriage to another woman comes at a time that guaranteed this to be a hot-button issue. It's just weeks after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the legality of gay marriage, and months away from a visit from the pope, who is known for his messages of love, forgiveness and his suggestion of tolerance for gays. Layer this on top of many Catholics struggling to reconcile their faith against decades of church scandals involving child abuse by priests.