A News 13 investigation reveals some questionable spending in a Pee Dee school district. We went through the contracts of a dozen superintendents in our viewing area and found a local school leader spending your money, but not keeping record of certain expenses.
News13 obtained the employment contract of Ray Rogers, superintendent of Dillon School District Four, after an open records request. On top of Rogers’ $149,500 salary, it shows he receives “unlimited gasoline” for his personal vehicle.
School boards are usually responsible for approving superintendents’ contracts. News 13 made another open records request, asking the Dillon 4 school board for the cost of Roger’s gasoline usage from 2013. The board wouldn’t talk on camera but in an email said in part:
“The district does not possess records relative to your request…”
“So the school district has no idea how much gasoline he’s using or what for? That’s absurd!” says Ashley Landess, President of the South Carolina Policy Council, a good-government nonprofit.
Rogers pumps his up his personal vehicle at the Dillon Four Maintenance and Custodial Department, no questions asked, no record keeping required.
“I started in 1991. And that was the way it was done,” Rogers says, explaining he’s been using school district paid gas for both school-related and personal trips for more than 20 years. “I use it for work and I use it for whatever,” Rogers says.
Rogers says he uses tax-paid gas for personal trips, like traveling to the grocery store, to and from work, just about anywhere, he says that’s “local.”
“Local just means around here,” Rogers says.
News13 asked Rogers if the district should keep all financial records. Rogers replied saying, “You can, if you see someone abusing something. But when nothing is abused and you spent no more than I have—I don’t think anyone sees any abuse.”
News13’s Matt Petrillo asked Rogers, “Some people might ask: How do they know if it’s being abused if records aren’t being kept?” Rogers responded saying, “Well, we’re keeping an overall record on all of it.”
“The majority of education dollars do not go to the classroom,” says Landess. “They go to administration. This is just another example of how that’s been abused.”
News13 averaged the cost of regular gasoline over the past 23 years, the length of time Rogers has served as superintendent. Rogers says he fills up about one and a half times a week. Knowing that information, we estimate Rogers spent more than $86,000 dollars on his gasoline since he started pumping up for free.
News13 asked the district who else pumps up for free through another open records request. But the district doesn’t keep records for that either, but Rogers did confirm there are others who gas up for free.