Activists want Colorado school spending details online
DENVER, Colorado ” Activists are calling on state lawmakers to require school districts to post their spending reports online, citing a nearly $10,000 Starbucks tab in Jefferson County as an example of questionable spending they’ve turned up.
About 30 people turned out at the state Capitol Tuesday to show their support for a bill from Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, which originally would have required such reports to be posted monthly in a searchable database.
The measure (Senate Bill 57) was watered down last week to simply encourage districts to post the information. Harvey said he would try again to make it a mandate when the full Senate debates the bill, which is expected to happen Friday.
“If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it,” Harvey said, echoing one of the slogans on the signs at the group’s rally.
Natalie Menten of Lakewood discovered the $9,861.89 in Starbucks spending after she paid $75 for a CD containing Jefferson County schools’ credit card spending records from January 2007 to August 2008. She posted the information on her Web site, allowing anyone to search for spending in different categories.
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Jefferson County schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said the district usually buys catering-style containers of coffee for staff meetings but said employees can’t use the district’s credit card to buy their own individual drinks.
Menten’s database also shows $4,672 spent on eight Carnival Cruise line tickets in February 2008 and $262 spent on three different bowling and miniature golf outings just as classes began in August.
Setzer said the figures are misleading and no taxpayer money was involved.
She said a group of about 20 vocational students went on the cruise accompanied by two teachers to learn more about jobs in the industry but the students were required to pay their own way, including money brought in by fundraisers. The district’s credit card was used for the final payment on eight student tickets in February but the students later reimbursed the district, she said. The district did pay for tickets for two teachers, but it wasn’t clear which tickets those were or how much they cost.
Setzer said the bowling and miniature golf trips were for faculty team building and the district was reimbursed with money from teacher lounge soda machines.