October 9, 2008

Accountability on School Boards

The State Comptroller released a blistering audit of the Niagara Falls School District, saying they overpaid Superintendent Carmen Granto and other employees by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The audit uses some of the strongest language I have ever seen, saying the district failed Niagara Falls taxpayers. Granto, who is moving toward retirement, has promised to right the ship before he leaves. He has always enjoyed a pretty good reputation for getting things done and being a pretty good fiscal hawk, but at the same time, the district has also appeared to be an insider's game. Stuff like this always begs the question of what the heck are the school boards doing.

As you can imagine, people email me all the time on different topics, yet the stuff that seems to come in the most often and invokes the most passion involves school districts and school board members. We had a recent post about the Lockport capital project and the fact it's being sold as not costing taxpayers anything when that doesn't seem to be the case.

We had emails about the lead problem in the Newfane Early Childhood Center and what appears to be a rather tepid response from that superintendent and school board. How in the year 2008 we can justify having lead paint in Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms is beyond me. The district should have abated this a long time ago.

And the emails I have received about the apparent conflicts that abound on the North Tonawanda School board that have several members kissing the super's backside to protect their self-interest are a fascinating read. Since I haven't confirmed the information, I'm not going to post (YET) what's been sent to me.

So folks, the biggest part of your property tax bill is school taxes and yet they appear to be the least accountable. Feel free to share your horror stories.