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State auditor general releases final update audit of Harrisburg School District, praises its efforts to get back on track

The Department of the Auditor General has been reviewing the school district’s compliance with an audit released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from July 8. 

Pennsylvania Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor released the final update from his department’s real-time audit of the Harrisburg School District on Tuesday, and praised the district for its continuing efforts to get back on track.

“I want to recognize the progress that’s been made to put the district back on track, put its past behind it, and improve for the future,” DeFoor said in a press release. “The district’s current leadership team has implemented lasting changes and continual process improvements that will benefit students and taxpayers.”

The Department of the Auditor General has been reviewing the school district’s compliance with an audit released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in June 2019, around the same time the state placed the district into receivership.

DeFoor said his department’s final update focuses on the district’s compliance with the PDE audit’s recommendations to improve how it manages independent contractors. The PDE audit had found that the district collectively paid over $210,000 more than the board-approved contract amounts for 16 service contracts as a result of poor monitoring.

“Our audit team found that the district put stronger internal controls in place to monitor independent contractors and related costs,” DeFoor said. “These new layers of accountability include a one-year limit on service contracts to make sure that a contractor’s performance is evaluated annually."

The district has also tried to hire permanent employees to provide needed services whenever feasible, DeFoor said.

“Controlling costs is essential because it allows more resources to reach the classroom, which is also what taxpayers expect and deserve,” DeFoor added.

DeFoor thanked Dr. Janet Samuels, the state-appointed receiver, and Christopher Celmer, the district’s former acting superintendent, for their cooperation during the real-time audit. 

He also congratulated Eric Turman, who took over as superintendent earlier this month.

“Although this real-time audit has ended, my department will again review Harrisburg School District at some point in the future as part of our periodic audits of all school districts,” DeFoor said. “We will continue to make sure that the interests of students and taxpayers are protected.”

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