PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The West Mifflin Area School District told people they had to raise their property taxes to meet expenses, so why have they been issuing credit cards to dozens of employees?
KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan found out those employees are charging things like meals, hotels and gas.
The school district issued 43 credit cards to 43 of its employees, everyone from the maintenance staff, to teachers, to the superintendent.
The result has been thousands of dollars of charges every month, including hundreds dropped at area restaurants.
KDKA obtained the district’s credit card records from the past year, and while many of the charges seem legitimate, others don’t see to have much to do with educating students.
For example, maintenance workers seem to have properly used the cards to get supplies at places like Schink’s Hardware in Duquesne, and the home economics teacher has used it to buy groceries.
On the other hand, school administrators routinely charged the district for meals at restaurants like Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and sushi bar on the Southside, the Lone Star Steakhouse, and the Westwood Country Club.
Records show that in the past year Superintendent Daniel Castagna charged the district $2570 for meals at local restaurants.
Former board member Nick Alexandroff thinks that’s wrong at a time when the struggling district raised taxes in June to close a budget gap.
“They had a $2 million dollar deficit, and they raised taxes by 4 point 3 mills, and they’re using taxpayer money for these bills.”
District officials declined to be interviewed on camera and wouldn’t speak with KDKA when Andy Sheehan showed up at their administration building.
They referred all questions to their attorney, who said Castagna and other administrators are permitted to charge the district for dinner if they need to stay late for board meetings, football games, for other school events.
The attorney says the district has a policy requiring all cardholders to “execute a written contract indicating the card will be limited to school district purchases.”
While the attorney says district employees aren’t required to fill out expense reports, and that the administration reviews all charges and that the school board is “given detailed information related to the expense before it is approved.”
Not so says Alexandroff who says he never saw the charges.
“I don’t remember seeing any of these master copies the four years I was on the school board.”
Despite the criticism, the district and current board members say they have no intention of recalling these charges or changing the policy.
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