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Philly Controller says hands tied on public school audits

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Philadelphia’s City Controller says he would like to take a closer look at the school district’s finances, but keeps hitting legal roadblocks. 

Controller Alan Butkovitz says because the school district is under state control, he’s had a hard time examining the financial books.

“We are barred from doing performance or managment audits at the school district and that has been the way it has always been,” Butkovitz said. “Even when our powers were under the city charter education supplement we don’t have the kind of auditing powers we do with the school district that we do with the city.”

Butkovitz says his office can take a detailed review of city departments, but the controller has been without those powers for schools since the state takeover in late 2001.

“The state law specifically did not give us a role in auditing and we’ve had that problem with charter schools. The legislature has viewed the school system as something that should report to itself or report to the legislature.”

The Pennsylvania Auditor General has the authority over the Philly schools, but Butkovitz says that office also has responsibility for more than 500 districts.

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