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Dr. Alonso Responds to Audit Showing Misuse of Funds
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:18 PM EDT
In a report revealed by Fox45 on Tuesday, $4,300 in stimulus funds meant to educate at risk students in Baltimore was spent on dinner cruises at the Inner Harbor instead.
We also found more than $5,000 dollars was spent, not in the classroom but on face painting, balloons and a steel orchestra.
Many members of the State Senate Education Committee weren't even aware of the audit until we brought it to their attention. The 67 page audit references how a PTA meeting held in Baltimore City that included only 28 people cost $2,500.
A spokeswoman for the Baltimore City school system knew nothing about the report until we continued to ask for an explanation. The audit also found missing funds in Prince George's County. The purchase of a $222 pencil sharpener has been flagged along with the 145 watches with velvet pouches that were purchased for principals.
On Friday, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso came on the Fox45 Morning News show to discuss the findings. Alonso downplayed the misuse of funds arguing that the amount was only a small percentage of the total amount spent.
"The reality is that the audit says that Maryland did a good job and overwhelmingly the funds were used in the right way," he said.
"What is in questions is $26,000," Alonso said, pointing out that the audit looked at a total of $15 million in funds in 2009 and 2010.
“There's something insulting to me about the fact that out of $15 million we end up with questioning of purchases of $26,000 dollars…These were all school-level events involving parents," Alonso said.
He called the misused funds 'bad judgement' on the part of the individual schools - not corruption, fraud or mismanagement and noted that after the audit the school system went back, reviewed everything and changed the guidance.
In the case of the $2,500 PTA meeting Alonso said the school had planned for 100 parents and only 28 signed up. Insisting that the school system has done an overwhelmingly good job Alonso said, "We just got a $1.2 billion bill through the legislature that is based on the perception that we were doing a remarkable job."