Baltimore City School Credit Card Expenditures Raise Concerns

An August 27 Baltimore Sun article reports on concerns raised by certain Baltimore City officials over the City school system’s use of credit and procurement cards for travel, retreats, dinners, and gifts.

Baltimore’s top leadership called on the school system Monday to tighten oversight of its expenditures after a Baltimore Sun investigation found central office staff spent roughly $500,000 during the past year and a half on items such as a $7,300 office retreat at a downtown hotel and a $1,000 dinner at an exclusive members-only club.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she believed the school board should review credit and procurement card expenditures incurred by administrators at city schools headquarters after a Sun review of statements and receipts found administrators charged about $300,000 on procurement cards. The procurement program, which city schools CEO Andrés Alonso started in January 2011, has been operating with little oversight or controls.

Among those transactions: $13,600 in office catering, $450 per-person office retreats, a student lunch at Hooter’s, and hundreds of dollars in restaurant visits by a former employee that the system is investigating. In addition, the system is requiring a high-ranking school official to personally pay back $5,000 in expenditures the system deemed inappropriate.

In the article, CEO Alonso defends the program, arguing that most school employees are making purchases as intended and only a small number of individuals taking advantage of the program’s flexibility in ways against the school system’s intent.

August 27 Baltimore Sun editorial criticizing the credit card expenditures

 

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