A sewing machine, some laptops, a snowblower, and musical instruments were among the items that City Controller Alan Butkovitz said his office could not find when it examined the Philadelphia School District's inventory practices.
Butkovitz, who has criticized the district's record-keeping and oversight in the past, said a recent audit found that 67 percent of selected items could not be located.
The audit, which focused on 11 schools, said the missing items also included cameras and air conditioners, and had a total combined value of $196,000.
"These findings suggest the district is not properly safeguarding and accounting for its $272.6 million furniture and equipment inventory," Butkovitz said. "There appears to be a clear breakdown in the district's procedures over its inventory, which reduced the ability to locate sampled property."
He blamed the problem on poor record-keeping, failure to document equipment left behind after buildings close, and staff members who took things without permission.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district recently began using an electronic inventory system to keep better track of equipment and supplies.
"We are aware of the challenge that schools are having," he said. "We believe we must do a better job."
Gallard said school personnel have been trained to use the new system.
However, with the recent layoffs of secretaries and assistant principals, school principals will have to input the information in the electronic inventory system themselves.
"When you have a $2.3 billion budget with an inventory of over $200 million, it is irresponsible to lay off all the people responsible for inventory," Butkovitz said Tuesday. "Clearly you're going to lose many times their salaries by not having them on duty."
Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has said he hopes to restore most of the 3,859 employees who were laid off if the district obtains additional funds to bridge a $304 million shortfall.