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Pasco County schools missing $58,000 worth of equipment

A French horn purchased in 1983. A Yamaha oboe acquired in 1996. Add to that a Sony camcorder, an Epson Powerlite projector, a Whirlpool Ice Machine, a Lexmark printer, a Tellermate Money Counter, a trophy case, a handful of cafe tables and a slew of computers — Apple iBooks, Apple iMacs, Dells. And more.

The 16-page list includes about 180 items, currently worth more than $58,000, that have disappeared from Pasco County schools over the past decade or so. And while most items have been devalued over the years — that missing oboe, purchased for $2,389, is now valued at $238.90 — the school district is trying to get a handle on the losses already incurred while finding ways to stem any future losses.

Many items, particularly computers and technical equipment, have been reported as stolen to local law enforcement agencies. Others, such as the Whirlpool Ice Machine, have been junked by maintenance staff. More are simply deemed "unable to locate."

The recent inventory report, mandated by Florida law and conducted by an outside company, stirred concern at the School Board meeting Tuesday.

"I think the taxpayers would have a real problem in seeing how many things aren't able to be located," board chairwoman Joanne Hurley said. "We need to do a better job of keeping our eyes open."

While some schools had a list of lost items, there were others that reported none. Some losses go back to the early 1990s, before anyone was keeping track.

Still, there's hope that some "unable to locate" items might reappear in future inventories, said Sam Draper, the school district's capital projects coordinator. The inventory report for 2010-11 is expected in October.

"We have people in property control that go out and assist plant managers, bookkeepers and technology specialist in finding the equipment," Draper said.

Even so, the school district is looking for ways to make those responsible for oversight more accountable, such as implementing an electronic database and a check out system for all computers.

The district will still search for the unaccounted for items, said spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli.

"We have a list now, so we'll continue to try to find them," she said. "But with the new procedures in place and with having a more stringent audit last year we expect to prevent future losses."

>>At a glance

School Board donates surplus equipment to Alabama school

In other business, the School Board:

• Donated surplus equipment to a tornado-ravaged school in Franklin County, Ala. School Board member Steve Luikart suggested the donation, which includes desktop computers, overhead projectors and television sets.

• Agreed to begin contract negotiations Monday with the United School Employees of Pasco for the upcoming school year. The kick-off session will feature a presentation by superintendent Heather Fiorentino about the budget and the district's $55 million shortfall. Up for discussion are proposed furlough days (four for 12-month employees and three for all other employees) that have been approved by the School Board, and the implementation of new legislative mandates, such as the evaluation system for teachers and administrators. The new law, which went into effect July 1, requires 50 percent of the employee evaluations to be based on student achievement data.

Pasco County schools missing $58,000 worth of equipment 07/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 8:52pm]
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