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Worcester County Commissioner Exposes School District's Secret "Slush Fund"

Worcester County Public School administration questioned on misappropriation.

On April 9, 2024, Worcester County Public Schools administration attended a budget work session with the Worcester County Commissioners. Commissioner Eric Fiori questions administration on the millions of dollars in funds that passed through undisclosed accounts, totaling 3.85% of the annual school budget. Fiori is questioning why these accounts are excluded from the school's yearly budget and kept off the radar.

Fiori expressed his concerns over the allocation of undisclosed resources that the school district has in its possession. The fact that he receives several emails from teachers who do not have sufficient resources for their classroom, many teachers are dipping into their own pockets to fund the needs of the classroom. Fiori's wife is a teacher, so the Commissioner understands this very well, as she also ends up spending personal funds for her classroom.

Fiori Stated, "I don't understand why these accounts are not budgeted and why an elected board of education is unaware of these particular transactions. It's county-wide, and I just don't think it's fair to our educators who are struggling to make a living wage, and we are trying to get them higher incomes, that we have 3.5 million dollars of basically unrestricted funds in our schools that's being allocated by one individual with no oversight of the elected," Fiori emphasized.

Fiori continued, "I love our teachers and they love their students. As my wife being a teacher, she absolutely loves her students and she's gonna spend that extra money. But what I'm talking about is requesting money of what they need as a necessity for their classrooms, and we have 3.5 million dollars in money that's sitting in there between all of our schools."

"We have 3.5 million dollars and we have no oversight, but a bookkeeper and a principle of a school. I just want to get that clear, correct?" asked Fiori.

The transactions in the accounts were confirmed unaudited as a result of a private investigation conducted by Fiori, when the school's auditor was questioned. The only thing that can be confirmed is that the auditor checks to see that the accounts are there on a yearly basis and not where the money actually came from, why, or how the money was spent.

Fiori concluded with the same simple question: "Why is this not included in the regular budget?"

At the end, Lou Taylor, Superintendent Worcester County Public Schools tried to assert that he has just received a report from the auditor, but it's on his desk (unless someone sent some bogus letters). There are some financial findings and recommendations, but Taylor doesn't know which auditor Fiori spoke to. "I'm confused it's not happening now, and I need to look into it," Taylor stated.

Below is a video from the meeting:

In light of Commissioner Fiori's findings, Commissioner Caryn Abbott requested a copy of all QuickBooks accounts and receipts from the school district.

Fellows & Editors

April 12, 2024 

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