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Prosecutor defends money spent on sports programs

WORCESTER – District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. has spent tens of thousands of dollars from a law enforcement fund to buy sports uniforms, spread sand and grass seed on baseball diamonds and for other sports-related work at a Worcester elementary school in a wealthy neighborhood, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Money was given without a formal application process used by other district attorneys and some contractors were political donors to Early, the Telegram Gazette reported, citing documents it obtained under the state Public Records Law showed

Early said spending public money on youth sports is a proven crime-fighting tool that helps reduce juvenile delinquency. Supervised after-school activities are part of his efforts to cut crime, he said.

“It’s about giving kids opportunity. It’s about prevention, prevention, prevention,” Early told the newspaper. “I can’t think of a better use of these funds.”

Records show Early has given at least $206,000 to athletic teams over the last two years.

In at least two cases, the contractors performing the work were political contributors to Early’s campaigns.

Money seized from alleged drug dealers is split evenly between the police department that confiscated the money and the district attorney’s office that handled the civil forfeiture proceeding. State law requires that most of the money must be spent on investigations and law enforcement operations, but allows district attorneys leeway to spend up to 10 percent of their share on rehabilitation, drug education and other anti-drug or neighborhood crime watch programs that further law enforcement purposes.

Critics say giving money to teams and leagues, including some in middle class neighborhoods, is not an effective anti-drug strategy.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the money belongs to the state and “needs to have protections attached.”

Carlton A. Watson, president of the Henry Lee Willis Community Center, said reducing substance abuse by funding youth sports would require a special effort to ensure that public money isn’t used to subsidize children who would get to play even without the money.

“If the kids benefiting are some of the same ones who are the most privileged already, I’d say it’s not accomplishing the goal,” he said.

The district attorney’s office received $380,870 in forfeited funds last year. Of that amount, Early spent at least $123,503, on sports equipment, leagues and athletic activities, according to accounting records.

His office spent $865 of its forfeited funds last year on drug rehabilitation, drug education and other anti-drug or neighborhood watch programs, according to an internal report.

Early spent $22,000 to repair basketball courts owned by the Main South Community Development Corp. and $10,000 to rebuild the basketball court at Flagg Street School, a West Side public elementary school.

The paving contracts, which were not put out for competitive bidding, went to Jolin Paving Excavating of Worcester. The company’s owner, John R. Jolin, has contributed $2,050 to Early’s political campaign account over the years he has been in office, according to state Office of Campaign and Political Finance records.

Early said he has never solicited a campaign contribution from a beneficiary of his forfeited funds spending.

Article source: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20120429electrical_problem_blamed_for_fatal_bridgewater_fire/srvc=home&position=recent

Prosecutor defends money spent on sports programs

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Prosecutor defends money spent on sports programs

The Associated Press

District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. has spent tens of thousands of dollars from a law enforcement fund to buy sports uniforms, spread sand and grass seed on baseball diamonds and for other sports-related work at a Worcester elementary school in a wealthy neighborhood, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Money was given without a formal application process used by other district attorneys and some contractors were political donors to Early, the Telegram Gazette reported, citing documents it obtained under the state Public Records Law showed

Early said spending public money on youth sports is a proven crime-fighting tool that helps reduce juvenile delinquency. Supervised after-school activities are part of his efforts to cut crime, he said.

“It’s about giving kids opportunity. It’s about prevention, prevention, prevention,” Early told the newspaper. “I can’t think of a better use of these funds.”

Records show Early has given at least $206,000 to athletic teams over the last two years.

In at least two cases, the contractors performing the work were political contributors to Early’s campaigns.

Money seized from alleged drug dealers is split evenly between the police department that confiscated the money and the district attorney’s office that handled the civil forfeiture proceeding. State law requires that most of the money must be spent on investigations and law enforcement operations, but allows district attorneys leeway to spend up to 10 percent of their share on rehabilitation, drug education and other anti-drug or neighborhood crime watch programs that further law enforcement purposes.

Critics say giving money to teams and leagues, including some in middle class neighborhoods, is not an effective anti-drug strategy.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the money belongs to the state and “needs to have protections attached.”

Carlton A. Watson, president of the Henry Lee Willis Community Center, said reducing substance abuse by funding youth sports would require a special effort to ensure that public money isn’t used to subsidize children who would get to play even without the money.

“If the kids benefiting are some of the same ones who are the most privileged already, I’d say it’s not accomplishing the goal,” he said.

The district attorney’s office received $380,870 in forfeited funds last year. Of that amount, Early spent at least $123,503, on sports equipment, leagues and athletic activities, according to accounting records.

His office spent $865 of its forfeited funds last year on drug rehabilitation, drug education and other anti-drug or neighborhood watch programs, according to an internal report.

Early spent $22,000 to repair basketball courts owned by the Main South Community Development Corp. and $10,000 to rebuild the basketball court at Flagg Street School, a West Side public elementary school.

The paving contracts, which were not put out for competitive bidding, went to Jolin Paving Excavating of Worcester. The company’s owner, John R. Jolin, has contributed $2,050 to Early’s political campaign account over the years he has been in office, according to state Office of Campaign and Political Finance records.

Early said he has never solicited a campaign contribution from a beneficiary of his forfeited funds spending.

___

Information from: Telegram Gazette, http://www.telegram.com

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Article source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2012/Apr/29/prosecutor_defends_money_spent_on_sports_programs.html

School Budget Cuts: How Students Say Slashes Are Affecting Them

As school districts are facing massive budget cuts across the country, school programs, teachers and students are taking the hit.

Across the country, 120 school districts had, as of October, moved to four-day school weeks while others are canceling field trips, shuttering after-school programs and charging students to play sports.

The cuts are seen in Keller, Texas, where the district opted for a pay-for-ride transportation system versus cutting busing as a whole; In Georgia, where 20 days were slashed from the pre-kindergarten academic year; In California, where nearly half the districts axed or whittled away at art, drama and music programs.

But these are all reports from school officials — from the top down. To get a sense of how these cuts are really changing things, Teen newspaper L.A. Youth went straight to the source — students. They asked readers about budget cuts at their schools, and received more than 1,850 teen responses.

943b6 SCHOOL SURVEY School Budget Cuts: How Students Say Slashes Are Affecting Them

The survey asked students a series of 15 questions. Findings showed that nearly 60 percent of all students had to hand-copy information from an overhead because the school couldn’t afford paper to make copies. Half of all students also reported that their school didn’t have enough computers or functional computers, nor were their enough textbooks for each student.

School infrastructure showed to suffer the most in areas like restrooms, graffiti-covered walls, internal heating and cooling and classrooms and desks. Students also reported having to personally pay for sports uniforms more than other school items.

Most telling is the discrepancy between what students think schools should cut versus what school officials have on their to-ax lists. The top three items students said schools should cut are school newspaper or broadcast outlets, summer school and field trips — in that order. The last items on students’ “should-cut” lists, starting from the bottom, are teachers, administrators, “other,” guidance counselors and sports — all items that schools have shown to most commonly choose to cut first.

943b6 SCHOOL SURVEY School Budget Cuts: How Students Say Slashes Are Affecting Them

And of the respondents, 97 percent said they are planning to attend college, and 64 percent plan to apply to an in-state four-year public institution. Although just 13 percent said budget cuts affected their ability to get the classes they need to graduate, cuts to just programs and teachers — leading to fewer opportunities and larger class sizes — have shown to affect students’ college readiness.

According to a report released last October by the Campaign for America’s Future, evidence suggests that cuts to education funding are leading to cutbacks from early childhood education programs, increases in class sizes and termination of art, music, physical education and other elective subjects. Special programs are also being cut as a result — including those that assist students with special needs as well as Advanced Placement courses, extracurricular activities and special academic programs for science, foreign language and technology.

943b6 SCHOOL SURVEY School Budget Cuts: How Students Say Slashes Are Affecting Them

Mifflin County, Pa. is no exception to the phenomenon, according to PBS NewsHour. Facing a 12 percent drop in state funding and declining enrollment, the school district has closed 40 percent of its schools, dismissed 11 percent of its staff, increased class sizes and decreased the number of courses offered.

The $4 billion in cuts to Texas public schools last summer led to a huge hit to unemployment as hundreds of educators were laid off. An estimated $5 billion cut from California’s education budget would start with a hit to school busing programs.

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Also on HuffPost:

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/la-youth_n_1277182.html

Parents missing out on school rebate

29244 470660 classroom technology Parents missing out on school rebate

Laptop computers are a claimable expense. Picture: Lindsay Moller
Source: AAP




THOUSANDS of parents are missing out on education tax rebates worth up to $800 a child because they’re failing to lodge the paperwork.


School uniforms, laptops, hats, shoes and sports uniforms have joined the list of expenses eligible families can claim this financial year.

Laptop computers, computer repairs, home internet connections, computer software for educational use, school textbooks, stationery and prescribed trade tools are also on the long list of legitimate education expenses.

But The Sunday Telegraph can reveal a treasure chest of more than $300 million in education refunds is going unclaimed under the scheme to refund families up to 50 per cent of eligible expenses.

A Treasury analysis reveals 600,000 eligible students failed to lodge a claim for the 2009-10 financial year.

The figure represents nearly one in four students eligible to claim the tax rebates, which are currently capped at $409 for primary school students and $818 for high school students, based on a 50 per cent refund for expenses up to $1636.

Eligibility for the Education Tax Refund is generally based on families qualifying for Family Tax Benefit A. If you are receiving Family Tax Benefit A payments, you should keep your receipts to claim for the education tax rebate when you lodge a tax return. The Family Tax Benefit is means tested and cuts out at about $75,000 for families with two primary school children but rises to $109,000 for families with three teenagers at high school.

Other payments that grant an entitlement to the education tax rebates include Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension, ABSTUDY living allowance, the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, and the Student Financial Supplement Scheme.

Treasurer Wayne Swan encouraged families to claim the rebate. “This can turn into a really expensive time with kids going back to school,” he said.

“These figures show there are parents who aren’t claiming what they’re entitled to.

“This refund provides parents with much-needed help for education expenses, with refunds of up to $409 per primary school student and $818 per secondary school student available at tax time in 2012 if they are eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A.”

Families can claim retrospectively in some cases if they have failed to lodge a tax return claim and can roll over expenses from one year to the next if they purchase an expensive item such as a laptop and spend more than they can claim in a financial year.

The education tax rebates come on top of another boost for families with teenagers turning 16. From January 1 this year, the Gillard government boosted the rate of Family Tax Benefit A by up to $4208.

 

Article source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/parents-missing-out-on-school-rebate/story-e6freuy9-1226255989785

Parents miss out on school rebate

9e5a5 296794 coogee public school Parents miss out on school rebate

Parents are missing out on education tax rebates because of late paperwork. Picture: Renee Nowytarger
Source: The Australian




THOUSANDS of parents are missing out on education tax rebates after failing to lodge necessary paperwork.


School uniforms, hats, shoes and sports uniforms have joined the list of expenses eligible families can claim this financial year.

Laptop computers, computer repairs, home internet connections, computer software for educational use, school text books, stationery and prescribed trade tools are also on the long list of legitimate education expenses.

But the Sunday Mail can reveal more than $300 million in education refunds is unclaimed under the scheme to refund families up to 50 per cent of eligible expenses.

A Treasury analysis reveals 600,000 eligible students failed to lodge a claim for the 2009-10 financial year.

The figure represents nearly one in four students eligible to claim the tax rebates which are capped at $409 for primary school students and $818 for high school students, based on a 50 per cent refund for expenses up to $1636.

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5d17f 535099 teachers Parents miss out on school rebate


5d17f 290324 coulter family Parents miss out on school rebate






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Eligibility for the Education Tax Refund is generally based on families qualifying for Family Tax Benefit A.

Other payments that grant an entitlement to the education tax rebates include Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension, ABSTUDY living allowance, The Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, and the Student Financial Supplement Scheme.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Government encouraged families to make a claim for the rebate. “To make the most of it, parents should be organised and keep their receipts in a safe place,” he said.

maidens@newsltd.com.au

 

Article source: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/parents-miss-out-on-school-rebate/story-e6frea83-1226256267917?from=public_rss

Parents ignoring $300m in rebates

83ace 217510 kim cassidy gets her kids grace 5 mary 8 and desiree 2 ready for school Parents ignoring $300m in rebates

SCHOOL RUN: Kim Cassidy of Burleigh Heads prepares for school with Mary, 8, Grace 5, and Desiree, 2. Picture: Adam Head
Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)




THOUSANDS of parents are missing out on education tax rebates worth up to $800 for every child after failing to lodge the paperwork.


School uniforms, laptops, hats, shoes and sports uniforms have joined the list of expenses eligible families can claim this financial year.

Computer repairs, home internet connections, software for educational use, text books, stationery and prescribed trade tools are also on the long list of legitimate education expenses.

But The Sunday Mail can reveal a treasure chest of more than $300 million in education refunds is going unclaimed under the scheme to refund families up to 50 per cent of eligible expenses.

A Treasury analysis reveals 600,000 eligible students failed to lodge a claim for the 2009-10 financial year – 120,000 in Queensland.

The figure represents nearly one in four students eligible to claim the rebates, which are currently capped at $409 for primary school students and $818 for high school students, based on a 50 per cent refund for expenses up to $1636.

Eligibility for the Education Tax Refund is generally based on families qualifying for Family Tax Benefit A.

The Family Tax Benefit is means-tested and cuts out at around $75,000 for families with two primary school children but rises to $109,000 for families with three teenagers at high school.

Other payments that grant an entitlement to the education tax rebates include Youth Allowance, Disability Support Pension, ABSTUDY living allowance, The Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, and the Student Financial Supplement Scheme.

Treasurer Wayne Swan encouraged families to claim.

“This can turn into a really expensive time of year for parents with kids going back to school,” he said.

The education tax rebates come on top of another boost for families with teenagers turning 16. From January 1 this year, the Gillard Government boosted the rate of Family Tax Benefit A by up to $4208.

Families can claim retrospectively if they have failed to lodge a tax return claim and can roll over expenses to the next year if they purchase an expensive item such as a laptop.

For information visit www. educationtaxrefund.gov.au

———-

RECEIPTS WILL BRING RELIEF

FOR Kim Cassidy, a tax-time saving on back-to-school items was a welcome relief.

The Burleigh Heads mother-of-three received $250 for school supplies through the Education Tax Refund last year but wasn’t sure she was eligible until she consulted an accountant at the Palm Beach Neighbourhood Centre.

“I had receipts but I didn’t know the real process,” she said. “I wasn’t really clear on it.”

Ms Cassidy said she received the rebate for essentials like uniforms and stationery.

But thousands of other families have missed out.

Ms Cassidy said staff at Burleigh Heads State School had been “very helpful” in telling her which receipts to save for the rebate and she was already saving them for this year.

- Anthony Gough

Article source: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/parents-ignoring-300m-in-rebates/story-e6freoof-1226256268112?from=public_rss

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