Mehlville School District to review reimbursement policies

Mehlville School District officials have reversed a unanimous Board of Education decision last week to reimburse an administrator $331 for his purchase of an Apple iPhone and iPhone supplies.

Superintendent Terry Noble, who originally gave prior approval to Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Brian Lane to be reimbursed, said the district’s reimbursement policies will be reviewed.

“We think that it was appropriate for a board member to bring this to our attention,” Noble told the Call. “We are going to review the policy and the practice of all of our issues that relate to reimbursable business expenses across the district, including cell phones and any other type of technology devices that we utilize. Meanwhile, the staff member is reimbursing the district for the device that was purchased.”

Board member Erin Weber questioned the reimbursement at the Sept. 18 meeting.

“Dr. Lane is in a new position this year and he needs one of these that’s got a PDA (personal digital assistant) calendar to it so it can be synced with his assistant because she schedules his events for the calendar …,” Noble replied to Weber at the meeting.

“So the Apple iPhone was the only PDA that would be capable of performing that task?” Weber asked.

“I don’t know about that,” Noble said.

“Other Central Office personnel have Blackberries or similar PDA/smart phones,” Board of Education President Tom Diehl said. “Anything else?”

“… I was just concerned that … we’re in deficit spending,” Weber said. “So the nature of our spending should reflect that. Like bare bones, no bells and whistles. It was just a concern to me.”

“I think we need to be mindful of the fact that phones have been out for 10 years,” board member Karl Frank Jr. said. “There are other PDAs. I just got my wife a PDA phone for $90 … There are other options out there, and we have to be mindful of just the branding and the whole idea of what an iPhone is and what it represents to the community. We need to be a little bit more selective.”

The board then voted 7-0 to reimburse Lane’s purchases of the iPhone and supplies.

Noble told the Call the district’s reimbursement policies will be reviewed because “I just don’t want to deal with it in isolation because there are other folks out there who have been reimbursed for similar purchases connected to their job responsibilities.”