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Pennsylvania Auditor General To Assess Pittsburgh Public Schools Transportation Costs

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Students at Pittsburgh Public Schools arrive on their first day in August 2017.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will begin a performance audit this month of transportation contracts and costs in the Pittsburgh Public School District.

The last audit of the district from his office was released in 2015 and did not cover transportation.

PPS has a dozen transportation contracts, something he said could be justified, but is concerning.

“One of the things we’re going to see is would it make sense to have only one vendor or potentially do it in-house,” he said. “Or to see maybe if that could be paired down.”

Many Pittsburgh secondary students use Port Authority of Allegheny County buses to get to school. DePasquale said that won’t be a focus of this audit.

PPS students who live more than a mile and a half from their school are eligible for transportation. The district also transports students who live in the city but attend non-public and charter schools within a 10-mile radius of the lines.

He said his office will audit Philadelphia’s public school transportation system once the Pittsburgh audit is completed. He says the Pittsburgh Public Schools audit should wrap up in about six months.

“My gut instinct is there are things that can be done to improve it,” he said. “But, poor bidding processes and not holding vendors accountable has been a big issue across our state.”

DePasquale has previously advocated for school transportation contracts to be re-bid when they are up for renewal, to ensure districts are getting the best price. He blasted the Scranton City School District last year for overspending and failing to lower the bids of a bus contract.

In 2016 he pointed out that 19 school districts had spent nearly $55 million more than their state reimbursements because they were renewing transportation contracts without seeking new bids.

Pittsburgh Public School officials have been notified that the audit would begin this month.