For the Good of Illinois

Subscriber Special: Wyoming School District Spent $10M On Credit Cards

August 21, 2018 10:00 AM
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"We appreciate the scrutiny the [Forbes] article brought to us
and caused us to look in the mirror."

– Natrona County School District Superintendent Steve Hopkins
 
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In 2017, the second largest school district in Wyoming, Natrona County School District in Casper, racked up $9.6 million in credit card expenditures.
 
School officials charged off nearly 28,000 individual transactions, averaging 76 charges per day for $27,400. There are 1,400 school employees with credit card access.
 
Consider just three categories of Natrona County School expenditures: 
 
  • Dining Out for $287,698 – On the taxpayer dime, school officials patronized 457 restaurants ranging from steakhouses to breweries and from The Breadboard and Bubba's BBQ to Sushi Zensai and Shki Japan.
 
  • Traveling for $622,473 – Last year, the district spent $162,611 on airfare, $400,000 on hotels, and another $20,000 in car and bus rentals, Ubers, and other transportation. School officials stayed at posh hotels around the country, including the Venetian Palazzo In Las Vegas ($3,480), the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville ($1,602) and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas ($1,500).
 
  • Entertainment and Recreation for $1.08 Million – Natrona County SD paid 284 vendors for self-disclosed 'entertainment and recreation' including Amazon ($317,240), iTunes educational apps ($10,247), Hobby Lobby ($22,400), Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us ($1,500), Jump Craze Trampoline ($3,581), and more.
 
At OpenTheBooks.com, we posted the line-by-line transactions for taxpayers to download.
 
Though the story is ongoing, our oversight made major impacts right away:
 
  1. Superintendent Steve Hopkins called an immediate press conference, confirming our article as accurate and providing additional public purpose details around some expenditures.
  2. The district has pledged to improve by reviewing all policies, usage, and internal controls.
  3. Transparency impact: the district posted online detailed accounting transactions on Monday, August 20. Review these records here.
  4. The district issued a request for further citizen feedback.
 
 Remember, It's Your Money! Join the Transparency Revolution!
 
 
 
 
 
Jessie Fox
Communications Specialist
 
Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski)
CEO & Founder, OpenTheBooks.com
 
Matthew Tyrmand
Deputy Director at Large
 

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