Thursday, September 13, 2012
7 News Investigations: Cashing In
Local school boards have been struggling with money for years. But a 7News investigation has found school districts across South Florida have thousands of dollars sitting in state accounts just waiting to be claimed. Here's 7's Patrick Fraser with more on how our schools could be cashing in.
In Broward they've laid off teachers.
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho: "This reorganization eliminates some departments, eliminate some functions in the school system."
In Miami-Dade, they've cut support staff and administrators. Money is tight for public schools, very tight. But 7News has found tens of thousands of dollars for South Florida school districts just waiting to be claimed.
We went on the Florida Unclaimed Property website fl-treasurehunt.org and checked over 600 public schools in Dade and Broward. Ee were amazed at how much money is just waiting to be picked up
Look at this: Miami-Dade schools administration has $10,176.12 in just one account.
Connie Pou, Comptroller Miami Dade Public Schools: "Thanks to you we'll be able to go ahead and claim that money."
The money was from a check sent to the school district at a post office box they weren't aware of.
Connie Pou, Comptroller Miami Dade Public Schools: "It was a vendor that we did business with. We sent a payment for $274,000. They applied only $264,000."
Broward County schools had no idea they had cash coming to them, and in some cases, not one or two checks. Deerfield Beach High has five unclaimed accounts holding $11,623.47.
Tracy Clark, Broward Co. Public Schools: "We do check periodically. Our treasury department does. Typically, they just check for Broward County Public Schools not for individual schools."
In Broward, we found Pinewood Elementary has $35,000. Miramar High just over $1,000. Hallandale High about $1,5000 and Dillard High just over $1,000. And thanks to our investigation, that money could wind up being spent where its needed most, on students.
Tracy Clark, Broward Co. Public Schools: "We are happy that we have an opportunity now to claim some of the money that was out there."
In Miami-Dade County, we found 23 unclaimed cash accounts for individual schools. Melrose Elementary has almost $1,200 in cash sitting out there. The New World School of the Arts around $250 and the Liberty City Elementary school has nearly $1,000.
Both Dade and Broward school districts say they check the fund for unclaimed money, but only Dade searches for individual schools, and it's turned into a goldmine.
Connie Pou, Comptroller Miami-Dade Public Schools: "For the last five years we've collected over $200,000."
Patrick Fraser: "And there is even more money out there that could go to help students, but it's not in the name of the school or the districts. We discovered school drama clubs have money waiting for them. The Coral Springs PTA has $715 waiting to be picked up. Band supporters have money and cash is there for former classes like the Carol City Class of 1973 that has $4,040 in the unclaimed fund."
Connie Pou, Comptroller Miami-Dade Public Schools: "We now have to go to each individual schools, have them check the accounts for classes and clubs and determine if we need to notify somebody else."
In all, we found nearly $50,000 available for the two school districts.
Tracy Clark, Broward Co. Public Schools: "Every dollar absolutely counts."
And hopefully schools will now be cashing in for the kids.