Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More questions in Penn-Delco

I’m still trying to understand exactly what happened in the Penn-Delco School District in terms of that $100,000 grant from the state that was misspent by the Penn-Delco Education and Cultural Foundation.

I suppose one way to look at is that the district has dodged a bullet. A fairly expensive one at that.

You may recall that the district recently received a letter from the state Department of Community and Economic Development stating in fairly stark terms that the district had misspent a $100,000 grant.

The money was supposed to be used for technology services in district classrooms. Instead it wound up being spent for a sculpture of the Griffin, the Sun Valley High mascot, landscaping, and ceremonial bricks on a walkway outside the school.

The state agency was not amused. They wanted their money back – with interest.

The money was acquired for the district by the Penn-Delco Educational and Cultural Foundation. The boss of the foundation at the time was former school board President Keith Crego. Enough has been written about him and the events that landed him in jail.

The fear was that the district – and beleaguered taxpayers -- were going to be on the hook for the $100,000.

Apparently not.

At a packed school board meeting Monday night, board President Anthony Ruggieri indicated that not only was the district not going to have to fork over the money, they likely were going to be able to use the money the way it was originally intended, technology.

They are being reimbursed by their insurance carrier.

Everything’s hunky-dory, right? Maybe. Left unsaid is whether this arrangement will fly with the state. They still seem to be out the original $100,000 that was misspent. Maybe they’ll be satisfied that the district is going to eventually use the money as intended.

The board also shed little light on just what went wrong with the Foundation, how the money was received, and how it was misspent. Instead they seem to be taking the angle that the Foundation was a separate entity from the district. And leaving it at that, washing their hands of the actions that led them down to this point.

The state also indicated in their letter that they intended to cut off the district from any further grants, but district Solicitor Michael Levin seems to have his doubts as to whether they can do that.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the district is not on the hook for the $100,000. Taxpayers in Aston, Brookhaven and Parkside have seen more than their share of shenanigans with the district stemming from Crego’s bizarre reign.

But there still seems to be some unanswered questions about all this, how this first came about in the actions of those connected to the Foundation, and how it is now being resolved.

Then again, this is Penn-Delco. Nothing should surprise us at this point.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Heron,
I would like to thank you and your staff of reporters for the way things have been printed about the whole Penn-Delco situation. If it were not for your paper and the reporter Loretta Rodgers and her fairness,honesty and caring about the community upon where she resides. And the many taxpayers who stood up and asked questions and are continuing to ask questions we would still have Crego and Aburtyn walking the halls of Penn-Delco. From what I witnessed at the last meeting the ignorance and arrogance of Mr. Ruggieri toward Loretta Rodgers was in very bad taste. This man needs to learn when to open his mouth and when to shut it. After all Mrs. Rodgers is also a taxpayer within the community.
There is still much to be done in the cleaning out department here in Penn-Delco. As we have exchanged one board for another board but not much has really changed in the way that things are done here. The head of the Republican party and Aston still run the district. This is an inexperienced board with no direction. There are now more secrets than ever more closed door meetings. The public is left completly in the dark. There needs to be more communication between the public and this board. Instead we are told at the last meeting by a board member of a few months. Who never ever attended a meeting before to trust this board. Don't listen to gossip which by the way most has been true within this community. In other words sit back and trust this board. Look at what happened when we all trusted the last board. With each passing month it seems to revert back to the days of old. When questions are asked the questionaire gets the runaround never a solid answer. As for the foundation matter as in the Crego case it seems those that were at the heart of the matter will not be held accountable. Why you may ask take a good hard look at who most are in the community.It's a shame that the few left on the Foundation board are the ones holding the bag for the rats who jumped ship when the seas got rough. It's politics at it's worst in my opinion!!!!

April 23, 2008 at 1:16 PM 

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