2NEWS Investigators discover $40,000 loss taken by Union Public Schools on computer stands

TULSA - With schools close to opening their doors for the 2014-15 academic year, the 2NEWS Investigators discovered a $40,000 loss taken by Union Public Schools.

Our investigation was prompted by an e-mail asking us to look into an item put up for auction by Union Public Schools. The item was a computer stand. Actually it was 512 computer stands, most of which were still in the original packaging.

In 2008 the district bought computer stands for the computer labs. The idea behind the stand was to make the computer components more compact.

The stand combined the (CPU) tower with the monitor and any accessories.

"It was advertised that you could easily move them from one desk to another or from one classroom to another," said Dr. Kirt Hartzler, Superintendent of Union Public Schools.

Months after the purchase the district realized the stands weren't holding up, literally.

"We didn't want a 30-pound device falling on students or a staff member," said Hartzler.

He said the stands would fall apart and wouldn't stay intact.

The district stopped ordering the stands, but by that point it had already bought 512 of them for $79.16 each. The total price for the stands was $40,529.92.

Making matters worse, when the district realized the problem it was past the 30-day return policy of the company from which the stands were purchased, so the district couldn't get its money back.

Since bond money was used to pay for the stands, the district had to wait five years before they could auction them off. State law requires anything bought with bond money to have a five-year shelf life, so the computer stands sat for a half decade.

The stands were auctioned last month for $400. It was a loss of $40,130.

Scott Appelbaum has been a property owner in the Union school district for more than 30 years, with three generations of Union graduates in his family tree.

"My son and my daughter went to Union, my granddaughter went to Union, no all three of my great grandkids go to Peters now in Union," said Appelbaum.

As a grandfather and a taxpayer, he says he is all for Union but was concerned about what the 2NEWS Investigators uncovered.

"I hope they learned their lesson so they don't make a big mistake like that again," said Appelbaum.

The district now has a pilot program to test out equipment before making large purchases.

"We do try to be great stewards of our taxpayers' money and again, it's not something that we intentionally set out to do," said Hartzler.

The 2NEWS Investigators are tracking your tax dollars. If there's something you'd like us to look into, send us an e-mail at news@kjrh.com .

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BACK TO SCHOOL SECTION: School supplies lists and district calendars for the 2014-15 school year

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