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Audit: Error led to $450k underpayment to Red Lion district

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

A recent state audit of the Red Lion Area School District found a district administrator inaccurately reported transportation data to the Department of Education, resulting in an underpayment of over $450,000 to the district.

Red Lion School District.

The audit, released Dec. 19, covered the district’s operations from June 2012 through the end of June 2016.

School districts are entitled to receive a transportation subsidy for most students transported to and from school, according to the Public School Code.

According to the the audit’s sole finding, the district calculated the wrong number of days students were transported by its secondary contractor.

Instead of reporting actual days vehicles were used to transport students, the district computed the number of days using a sample average, which resulted in just nine percent of eligible days reported to the Department of Education.

The error led to an underpayment of $456,211, according to the report.

The audit found several other mistakes on the transportation reporting:

  • The district failed to reconcile the number of days vehicles transported students on contractor invoices to numbers submitted to PDE.
  • The district inaccurately reported milage and the number of students transported because of the inaccurate sample averages.
  • Total contractor costs were inaccurately reported to PDE  due to the district’s failure to include eligible fuel costs. Its erroneous inclusion extended school year costs not covered by the subsidy.

According to the audit, the district official responsible for reporting the 2015-16 transportation data had not reported the Student Transportation Subsidy before.

The district acknowledged the employee was not fully trained on completing the task.

In addition, the district didn’t have a procedure to review all calculations by another individual before submitting the data to PDE.

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District response: The district responded to the auditor general’s report, stating it implemented new procedures to ensure its record-keeping, including creating frequently updated spreadsheets of all applicable transportation data for its reporting to PDE.

The response also states its director of transportation — currently Diane Lubking — has received training on how to properly interpret data from the spreadsheets.

It is unclear who was director of transportation at the time of the inaccurate reporting.

In addition, all reporting will be reviewed by Lubking’s secretary to further ensure accurate averages going forward.

The Auditor General’s office provided the Department of Education with reports of the district’s transportation data.

The money is not lost, however. The audit’s recommendation listed a procedure in which the the district will still be eligible to receive the past amount in future transportation subsidies.

Two audit findings from the district’s prior audit in 2013 were corrected, one of which also was an issue regarding erroneous reporting for reimbursement.

— Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez at jgonzalez@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @EducationYD.