PECOS, Texas – The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school district’s annual financial report in 2017 included the following paragraph:

“The district’s expenses, which totaled $53,991,146, were more than the District’s program revenues of $4,771,649 and general revenues of $44,395,476.”

That was an accounting firm’s fancy way of saying that the school district spent $4,824,021 more than it took in during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

So here’s a simple question – how could a public school district with a $4.8 million deficit justify spending $154,236.97 on hotel and restaurant expenses that same year?

But that was the case in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah district in 2016-17.

The district had 139 transactions with various hotels for a total of $121,986.13. That averages out to $883.96 per transaction.

Tops on the list were Hilton hotels in various locations, where the school had 27 transactions for a total of $23,542.68 (including one single charge for $4,131). That averages out to $871 per transaction.

Other favorite destinations were La Quinta Inn and Suites (12 transactions, $4,512.60), and Marriott (14 transactions, $19,517.50). There were also big one-time charges at a Baymont Inn ($3,215.55), the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel ($2,970), Drury Hotels ($3,023.19) and Days Inn ($2,704.96).

The district’s restaurant tab involved 124 purchases for $32,250.84, which averages out to $262,20 per transaction.

The list of more popular eateries included Dairy Queen (12 charges for $3,265.17), Dickey’s Barbeque Pit (four charges for $1,479), Don Burrito Restaurant (four charges for $1,538) and Whataburger (seven charges for $1,264,94).

With that kind of money being freely spent on unnecessary products and services, nobody would ever guess that the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah district had any financial problems at all.