Four-star hotels, luxury spas, fine dining and catered food, teams of lawyers…. For Dallas ISD, money is no object. The district spent over $57 million over just four years, not a dime of which went towards educating children.
According to a study of Dallas ISD finances by the Dallas Morning News, it took the district only four years to spend $57 million without any of it going to instruction. (The DMN claims this is a conservative estimate!) While such absurd and reckless disregard of their fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers is enough to make any conservative nauseous, it’s especially troubling given Dallas ISD’s recent cuts of nearly 1,700 jobs. Even more cuts may be on their horizon.
So how does a school district spend $57 million in only four years without educating a single child? Let’s look at some examples:
– $300,000 at Atlanta Bread Co
– $86,000 at Chick-fil-a
– $1.7 million on promotional items, such as mugs and T-shirts
– $488,000 to rent space and cater meals from Aramark Events and Infomart
– $17.7 million on legal services (neighboring Forth Worth ISD spent only $1.6 million over the same four years)
– $2,500 registration fee for one principal to attend a four day conference at Harvard University
– $28,500 for rooms at the Novotel Hotel in Time Square in New York. The conference cost $38,150
– $36,000 on 8 overnight retreats – all located within the DISD boundaries
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The district doesn’t even require receipts to be turned in with per diem expenses, so there is no way to verify the district is being reimbursed for unused funds by district employees!
But to understand just how bad their spending practices have been, you need to see this quote by Urton Anderson, the Accounting Department Chairman of The McCombs School of Business at UT:
”This whole thing is unbelievably fraudulent. It’s just free money. I don’t think it’s a good process.”
It’s saying something when even tenured professors at UT think it’s a waste of money!
The most egregious part of all, at least in my opinion, is the attitude of the district shown when questioned by the DMN. The only remorse they seem to feel is that they didn’t see a state budget problem coming. Look at what district spokesman Jon Dahlander said about it:
”Hindsight is perfect. During July 2010, there was little indication that the state would face the massive shortfall that is currently experiencing.”
So according to them, it’s only a problem because they didn’t get their usual “fix” from the state. Do they really expect taxpayers to buy that?
“Hindsight” has been costing local residents millions over the past several years. It’s time Dallas ISD learns some foresight and put an end to this sickening abuse of taxpayer money.
The following Dallas Morning News articles were used as sources:
- DISD trustees vow to reduce excessive spending (6/20/2011)
- Dallas ISD spent millions on extras, analysis of check register shows (6/18/2011)
- Dallas ISD’s legal costs far exceed peers’ (6/18/2011)
- Four-start hotels, conventions among Dallas ISD travel expenses (6/18/2011)
Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
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