Community member and frequent contributor “Poor Richard” returns with his insightful commentary on the shocking state audit of the Belleville school district that was recently released.
Don’t you wish you could spend more money than you make or have in the bank? The Belleville School District did just that.
Belleville Residents need to be aware of the findings of the latest State Audit.
Page 116 of the audit, as of June 30, 2014 the auditor noted;
- A $3,712,426 General Fund Operating Deficit
- Approximately 90 budget line items were over expended (overspent)
- General Fund budget appropriations were over expended $4,636,201 (that is a lot of Green)
- 31 disbursements totaling $2,143,608 were paid without supporting invoice or documentation. That means we paid people without receiving a bill.
- 20 disbursements were made where the Purchase Order was dated after the invoice. That means the purchase documents were made after the invoice and payment were made. A breech of policy, proper accounting and makes one wonder what was going on.
- The district’s bank account was in an overdraft or deficit position of $1,365,369. We spent more money then we had in the account. How does that happen? What bank allows you to overdraw an account for over $1,300,000? Who did they have in the bank that allowed that to happen without reporting it?
- A lease for $1,950,000 (Clarity) and a $1,025,000 lease for a roofing Project were never recorded in the Districts Accounting Records.
- In addition, payments were made directly to the vendors from these accounts and were never on the bill lists.
This all sounds a bit shady, doesn’t it?
I could go on for another 50 pages and not cover everything. Please take the time to read the audit.
We need to remember the names of Joe Longo, Bill Freda, Pete Zangari , and John Rivera for what they did to our School District and children.
Evidently, Belleville BOE covered up the fact that they had already overspent their budget in the 2012-2013 school year. The Board of Education fired the auditors and evidently decided not to tell anyone. Where was our Attorney, Al Demeo, Superintendent Helene Feldman, and the Acting Business Administrator Michael Vezza when this was going on? Any Board of Ed member that was on the Board for more than a year at the time would know this was all wrong. These were the so-called “professionals” and the people we entrusted to spend our tax dollars wisely, while giving our children a quality education.
After seeing the audit and listening to the auditor, it seems highly likely that a deficit this large comes by way of a premeditated plan to steal from the public. Looking at the fact that the public was not told the truth in the 2012 -2103 school year, coupled with the dollar amounts and the ways our money was handled in 2013-2014, makes one think of conspiracy or even racketeering.
I have heard Longo and Zangari mention that they are longtime Belleville residents, Belleville High School graduates. and that they “bleed” Belleville High “Blue and Gold”. I guess that they actually hemorrhaged Belleville’s green based on the Audit Report that came out. When you look at the extent of the over spending and the details of how the money disappeared without proper documentation, you have to believe that this was all part of a premeditated plan to hijack our hard earned tax dollars.
Although we know approximately what we owe ($5,000,000) , we still don’t know what it’s going to cost us to fix it. We know at least 3 million for computers, software, and network infrastructure, but what about text books, legal fees, building repairs, accounting fees and all those lawsuits. When all is said and done, we could be looking at more than $10,000,000 (even more green than expected).
How Longo, Freda, Zangari and Rivera can be so arrogant as to think they are above the law and treat the people of Belleville as lessers, is amazing. They should hang their heads in shame.
When will they be held responsible for what they have done?
People keep asking, where are the arrests and indictments?
When you see what has gone on in the rest of the State, you can’t help wonder when will it be the Belleville School District Administration and Board of Education’s turn to be held accountable.
Based on what the auditor said, we can’t even tell you how many children we have in our district. My guess would be somewhere between 4400 and 4800 children have been denied a quality education over the last few years, and will continue to receive less than they deserve.
On a positive note, some progress is being made. Thankfully, we have 2 new Board Members in Patricia Dolan and Ralph Vellon. It looks like Mr. Keubler and Ms. Lombardi will finally be working towards correcting this travesty. Hopefully, we will soon have a new Superintendent and all the “actors” will be replaced. It is time the acting Superintendent, the Acting Curriculum Director and Acting Director of Special Education be replaced with people that can actually do the job. Acting is the key word here because in my opinion, they have done nothing to move our district forward. These three are members of the old political regime and should be the first to go.
The District has brought back the domicile investigator, which is good news for Belleville taxpayers. For those people who do not live in Belleville, but have sent their children to Belleville Schools, we suggest you get them out now before the new administration finds out. Unless you want to reimburse the School District approximately $12,000.00 for tuition, you too are stealing the education from Belleville’s children and could be held accountable.
Please read the audit!
Even Poorer Richard
[Edit: the audit documents are available here]