Grayslake D46 studies procurement card use

Commonly known as p-cards, the program is a way employees can pay for business-related expenses. Most governments issue what’s similar to a debit card to employees, who often have varying spending limits.

District 46 board member Michael Carbone, who sits on the advisory finance committee, asked for Wednesday’s p-card discussion. Carbone said board members should receive line-item expenditures for the p-cards so they have more knowledge when approving the monthly bills.

Before the discussion began, Superintendent Ellen Correll turned over two years’ worth of p-card expenses incurred by her, former Chief School Business Official David Tylavsky and M. Lynn Barkley, assistant superintendent of teaching, learning and assessment, at Carbone’s request. She is in the process of finding p-card expenses from three years ago.

Government watchdogs have issued concerns about p-cards. For example, Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said it would be easy under this system to make an acquisition for the home that looks like an acquisition for the office.

Shannon Smigielski, a District 46 board member who doubles on the finance committee, asked how it’s determined what’s considered a legitimate business expense. Correll said the district business office scrutinizes the expenditures and inappropriate purchases must be covered by an employee.

“The very first time that (the p-card) came out, it was gray,” Correll said. “It looks very similar to other credit cards. I used it when I went in a grocery store. And I immediately wrote a check when I got back because I didn’t realize until I already swiped the card and (the charge) went through. ... I felt terrible about it.”

Barkley said that while tracking procedures can be improved, District 46 employees have different limits on p-card spending. She said receipts must go along with the p-card charges.

Carbone suggested the district’s 50 p-cards be used more often so it can gain more from a 1 percent cashback award on spending.

Frederick School Principal Eric Detweiler, a finance committee member, said he was unaware of the cashback award. He said he thought the p-card was more for convenience.

Michael Carbone