BUFFALO, NY - Some members of the Buffalo Board of Education are vowing to more closely scrutinize the way Buffalo Public Schools spend money, after a report from the office of the NYS Comptroller which said the school district did a poor job of of keeping track of its multi-million dollar investment in technology.
The Comptroller's office says an audit showed the district essentially frittered away hundreds of thousands of dollars by not utilizing a software program it bought to keep track of computers, and also failed to act in time to report missing computers in order to get reimbursed for them.
The district claims part of the problem was the software was faulty, and in its official response to the audit said it disagreed with the Comptroller's assessment that money was "wasted".
While noting that the responsibility of operating the schools falls to Superintendent of Schools James Williams, Board of Education President Ralph Hernandez still feels the Board of Education bears some responsibility in all this.
"I have to say yes, and the reason I say yes is because ultimately we vote on many of these items," Hernandez told WGRZ-TV. "What I could do is I can ask Dr. Williams and his administration, including purchasing, to come up here on the meeting of the 26th and give a full disclosure on the contract and the loss of the money....and I will do that," Hernandez said.
That idea was supported by fellow board member Mary Ruth Kapsiak.
"I think we should bring it back to the table and discuss it and I would be willing to bring it to the table to be more aware of what was going on." Added board member Pamela Perry Cahill, "I'm just really beginning to wonder about our policies and if they actually work because they seem not to be working in our favor."
Asked if the board would be holding Williams accountable, Hernandez said, "if you're asking me if we're thinking about any kind of disciplinary action because a contract went sour that's nothing that I've heard from any of my colleagues on the board and it's certainly nothing I'm looking at in this point in time."
"We should be doing due diligence every chance we get to make sure this money is spent correctly and the only thing I can say is that we're going to take a hard look at many of these contracts coming down the pike and make sure that this doesn't happen again.," Hernandez said
Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Jim Herr.