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Lehighton business administrator responds to controversy over moving accounts

Published August 13. 2019 01:47PM

 

Controversy over a previous school board approval to open new bank accounts with TD Bank has Lehighton Area School District’s administration recommending doing a formal request for proposals for bank services.

Lehighton’s board unanimously approved opening the bank accounts in November 2018, when former district business administrator Brian Feick told finance committee members the district would generate between $120,000 and $150,000 per year more in interest than what it was bringing in by using Mauch Chunk Trust Company.

The bank accounts, however, were never opened and, on Monday, current business administrator Patricia Denicola said she could not find any written proposal from TD Bank indicating how the promised savings would be reached.

“There are no records here to show that, and that is why we’re recommending doing an official request for proposals and give all area banks the opportunity to show us how they could potentially save us money,” Denicola said. “TD Bank was given three months worth of bank statements and, in my opinion, that isn’t enough data to create a fee proposal.”

Director David Bradley questioned why the bank accounts were not opened after the board authorized the action in November. According to Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver, the district’s business office put out a timeline shortly after the approval that indicated the transition in banks would take place between January and March.

“I was not aware the timeline that was created was not taking place,” Cleaver said. “The business office never came to us with any concerns as to why it wouldn’t be happening.”

Feick left Lehighton to become business administrator at Schuylkill Valley School District in March, when he was replaced by Denicola. Bradley questioned Denicola on Monday as to whether anyone at TD Bank had reached out to her as to why the transition from Mauch Chunk had not taken place.

“To my knowledge, nobody has reached out to me,” she said. “I was not here when this happened. I am trying to clean it up now. You’re targeting me when I’m trying to move the district forward.”

According to finance committee meeting minutes from November, director Rita Spinelli said at the time that she supported the move to TD Bank for cost saving purposes.

“We all agreed at the time based on the facts we were given from Mr. Feick,” Spinelli said Monday. “Since then, we have found out that not all of those facts were correct.”

District resident Barbara Bowes said she recalled the discussion when TD Bank visited the district’s finance committee meeting in the fall.

“I think one of the reasons they were being considered was their security enhancements,” Bowes said.

In 2018, Lehighton dealt with a fraud situation when people from around the country were creating what looked like district payroll checks and taking them to check cashing places. The scheme was uncovered and the district was made whole, according to district officials.

At the time of the board’s approval to open the new accounts, TD Bank officials told the district that the interest it would earn would offset the fees charged by the bank. Denicola said that Lehighton doesn’t currently pay any fees with Mauch Chunk.

“We’re looking to clear this up by doing an RFP so they, and any other bank who responds, can put in writing exactly what savings it can offer to the district and we can hold them accountable,” she said. “We need a way to verify the numbers we are being promised.”

The recommendation for a request for proposals will now go before the full school board. The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 26.

 

Comments
Community,

Good morning.

The board gave a lawful, direct order to their subordinate employee. The direct order included a process to follow and a timeline. The administration failed to follow the board's direct order, costing the district security risks and upwards of $150,000.
Combined, this insubordination cost us, the tax base, the amount of the latest tax increase plus or minus a few bucks.

Government agencies should not have these insubordination problems. However, when the board president's wife works for the administration, who do you think he will he listen to? If your spouse was collecting a sweetheart salary and benefits package, do you listen more to her boss or the people that elected you? Do you cut spending, or raise taxes? This bank transition was a win-win for everyone, except of course for those that like the current arrangement. Nice people can make some really bad, harmful government decisions when their family and friends are part of the equation.

This just shows how much authority this board has abdicated to their buddies in the administration. This administration has NO AUTHORITY to block a lawful board directive, yet, the board majority, the voting block of five have allowed this to occur. Shameless rubber stampers failing to hold the administration accountable.

Transparency will restore a government of, by and for the people, but until the board leadership changes, we are stuck.

The rubber stampers, Rita Spinelli, Andrew Yenser, Wayne Wentz, Larry Stern and Steve Holland corrupt the system and remove the people's voice when they allow the administration to run a muck, as demonstrated started here.

Excuses were given, blame was spread.
But, it is the board that has full responsibility.

Ten citizens can sign a petition forcing the courts to review a directors removal for neglect of office. The citizens can hold their government accountable by signing such a petition.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.
Ten citizens can sign a petition forcing the courts to review a directors removal for neglect of office. The citizens can hold their government accountable by signing such a petition.
Additionally, I call on all Lehighton citizens to notify the school board of known school attendees that live outside the district. We have beautiful new schools that should not be attended by non-tax payers.
What if a child and parents live outside the district but both sets of Grandparents, one Aunt, and three Uncles live in Lehighton and pay taxes BUT don't have any kids. Can THAT child attend Lehighton Schools?

What if a well to do couple that have a big beautiful house and pay say $10,000 a year in school taxes BUT can't have a child for some reason. Can they sponsor a child from outside the district?
Dear Mr. Abrupt,

Good afternoon. Spot on.

Even more ridiculous is the fact that our generous taxpayers allow the district to FORCE every student to TAKE additional educational benefits above lawful requirements. Very generous. Did you offer your generosity or did they take it, your silence as your compliance.

So a family of five children can move into an apartment in the district, or reside with family, and be FORCED BY LAW, to take the extra high school credits instead of moving on to a college, trade school or the military.
In total, in average, the five will receive $100,000 in benefits. In 13 years they get or $1.3M paid from the tax base. These funds are given to the district staff, boro electric and sewer, a solicitor and other vendors. Interest and special deals without the proper oversight of an elected board are also expended. The rubber stampers are led by Board President Larry Stern who's wife is a district employee. Are Larry's votes and actions ethical to the operation of an efficient district? Hell no.

For every senior citizen taxpayer pushed out by the district tax increases, we exclude people that don't directly consume resources and get in a family of ~1.8 children. They require the forced consumption of funds at the rate of about $20k/child/yr.

So glad to see others following the money.
As you see, the excess costs that are basically FORCED charity beyond the lawful requirements are being taken from taxpayers. The district then pays those funds to those selling their educational benefits to district for children.

The more the board authorizes the more their family and friends working for the district recieve. It is apparently legal for directors to act the way they do, because people like you give them a pass. To hold a director accountable ten citizen can petition a judge to remove them for neglect of duty.

The evidence is extensive. But, so are the risks of government retaliation. As this regime sees transparency coming they are becoming more and more aggressive.

Watch Larry turn red, Rita turn off, and Wayne Wentz get more violent in his attacks, Andrew Yenser is already leaving. Their resignation has been requested.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F Bradley, Sr.
Here is a link for the rules of student eligibility.

https://www.lehighton.org/cms/lib/PA02203712/Centricity/Shared/Policies/200.PDF

Essentially, Parent or Guardian must live in the district. So my answer is no to both of your questions. Anyone who is playing this game is technically committing fraud.

If the law changes then .... no problem. I have lived in states where the total school tax income is distributed evenly to all schools in the county and then a lottery is issued for the best schools in the county. Either system is fine but you can't have it both ways (low taxes in an adjacent district and the better schools in the higher taxed district).

Respectfully
Emails released show Andrew Yenser was in contact with the bank, and the business department, and the lack of his response.

Is this a dereliction of duty, neglecting his oath of office to honor the will of the board? Read the emails to form an informed decision.

Sincerely,

Citizen David F. Bradley Sr.

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