10 December 2013

On stealing $17,000 in cash from a charter school's office

And in a libertarian paradise where anyone can open an under-regulated charter school, a head office without a lick of business sense can lose $17,000 in cash when someone steals a safe full of money:
The 200 pound school safe was stolen from the CEO's office over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

It contained roughly $17,000 in cash the students had raised this term from the sale of candy and baked goods. It was money designated for school projects and essential supplies.
Why were the funds sitting in cash in the office? They couldn't possibly have intended to buy supplies and run projects with actual cash money, could they? Didn't they do daily runs to the bank to deposit the incoming cash? Who runs any kind of business this way?
The added problem for the school is they still owe the candy company and other vendors some $12,000.
No, seriously. Were they going to pay these vendors in cash?

And whoa, Nellie, that's a lot of money for candy and cupcake sales.

I think there are two types of charter school founders. One, you have sincere people working in good faith to open a school that will serve their kids better than the neighborhood options, but who aren't actually educators, school administrators, or businesspeople. You don't have to have any particular qualification to start a charter school; you just need to be able to file paperwork. (An opportunity for the underemployed with a "flexible J.D.," perhaps?) These are the types who risk running the schools into the ground through incompetence.

But you also get slick operators will game the system and rob the children and school districts blind. Which scenario do you think happened at West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School over Thanksgiving weekend? The school's CEO has a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in educational leadership and worked as a financial analyst before founding the school. Why would her school keep $17,000 in cash in a safe on-site?

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