Monday, March 31, 2014

Arlington Heights just keeps on giving

How much more corruption has to happen before something is done?

February 10, 2008
What happened to          the game tickets?

Author: DAVE LIEBER;        Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Edition: Tarrant
Section: Metro
Page: B3

Article Text:
The issue
Is the Fort Worth school district getting the cash it should from ticket sales        at home basketball games?
The former boys' and girls' varsity basketball coaches at Arlington Heights High       School contacted The Watchdog a year ago to say that their school was not following district policy regarding the cash sale of tickets to basketball games on campus. Tickets are supposed to be used to ensure an accurate count of sales. But,      they said, no tickets were used.
Both coaches, Harris Hughey (boys) and Quinn Tedder (girls), subsequently left the       district. They say they believed that attendance was higher than stated at games they coached. They wonder about checks and balances and whether policies are followed.
How the system is supposed to work
David Guerra, the district's facilities/ticket manager, says game tickets are        the key component of the accounting system to keep proper track of the number of people attending games and how much  they paid.A ticket is to be allotted for each paying spectator. The tickets are not given to the spectator, but the ticket taker is to rip it half. One half is placed in a container; the other is discarded. The starting and ending numbers of the tickets sold are also recorded.After the event,        the cash collected should match the number of tickets sold. This policy is written and widely circulated.
How much money is  involved
Last season, for  Arlington Heights boys' games, a recorded 545 tickets were        sold for the season. For girls' games, 670 tickets were sold, according to records provided by the school. For the season,  the school sent $3,252 to the district. Thirteen schools combined sent $37,000 last season from ticket sales to the        district, which deposits the money into its general fund.
Evaluation by the   district attorney's office
Last season, after  Hughey and Tedder filed a complaint with the Tarrant County      district attorney's office, an investigator attended two Arlington Heights games.
"Based upon our  looking at the matter, it doesn't look like there's any        accounting, other than they hand out a roll of tickets andthen they turn in a roll with so many missing and so much money. But there's no accounting for tickets by number or any other way," Joe Shannon, chief of the division of economic and        computer crimes, told me.
"It's just a questionof the word of the person who has the roll of tickets as to        how many they sold."
His investigator saw that ticket-sellers weren't using tickets.
"That's a possible leak in the bucket," Shannon said. "I'm not saying these        people are doing anything wrong, but that is a 'hole' in their accounting system. That's the deal."
The DA's office dropped the matter, though. "We're not able to prove how many      admissions were collected, and if we can't prove how many were collected and compare that to any turned in, we can't prove if there was any missing money. So there's the problem."
What The Watchdog found
I attended basketball  games this season and last season at Arlington Heights. I      never saw tickets used. I attended games at some other Fort Worth schools and never saw tickets.
Some people collecting  money at the door kept a tally sheet using hash marks to       record each person who paid. Others kept no records.
At Arlington Heights, girls athletic coordinator Isabelle "Izzy" Perry told me that      tickets were never used in public because they are "messy" and ended up on the court.
Perry said her ticket  sellers tallied admissions with hash marks. She said that        "most" other schools were not tearing tickets.
Administration    response
I showed officials photos and video of people accepting money for admission but       not using tickets. Guerra said this violated district policy.
Assistant Athletic Director Lisa Langston talked to Perry to reiterate the        importance of tickets in game sales.
Perry told me  afterward that she bought a glass fishbowl in which to collect        ticket halves at all future games. Langston sent an e-mail to  those in the district involved in ticket sales, reminding them that "the physical act of taking a ticket and tearing it in half should be in full view of the paying public. This is an        important step in conducting transparent business practices.Therefore, if your ticket taker is not or has not been following this procedure, please be certain that they do so."
Notes for future cases
The school district needs to do a better job of fulfilling requests for public        records.
Last May, I asked for a copy of "any document that shows the amount of tickets sold" at district high schools during basketball season. The Watchdog received only a portion of the records: No campus records were provided, although schools keep their own    ticket-selling records.
How ticket sales work
At the start of the season, boys' and girls' basketball coaches sign for rolls of        tickets. Each school's tickets are a designated color.
At campus basketball games, Fort Worth school district ticket-takers are employees who earn $30 a game. They must "take and tear all tickets in        half and properly dispose of them," the policy states. "Do not give spectators their half due to possible abuse of entry into future athletic events. Do not dispose of them in plain sight."
The starting ticket number and the ending ticket number for the event are to be      recorded on a tally sheet. The collection of half-tickets ought to match the number of tickets sold and the total cash collected.
Money is supposed to be deposited the next day with each school's internal finance       clerk. Reconciliation with the district happens by the end of the school year. The district's general fund gets the proceeds.
Have questions about ticket sales policies and procedures? Call the ticket office      at 817-531-6136.
Source: Fort Worth  chool district
The Watchdog column  appears Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Dave Lieber,           817-685-3830

Copyright (c) 2008        Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Record        Number:          317426

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