I-TEAM: Huber Heights school officials use COVID relief funds for trips, nearly $500 dinner

HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights City Schools said they received a total of $18.8 million dollars in federal COVID relief money.

A new investigative report from the Dayton Daily News focuses on how the district spent $36,000 of that money.

The DDN said the district spent the money on trips to Portland, Maine and Rochester, New York in December.

Huber Heights City Schools Superintendent Jason Enix said the trips were to travel to districts already using a learning model Huber Heights was working on implementing in their schools.

“There was directive to seek out model school districts that were utilizing project-based learning and to see how those could be implemented,” Enix said.

The district also booked trips to California and Virginia, but those were canceled because of COVID restrictions.

The district got some of the money for those trips back but could not get the cost of flights refunded.

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Enix said instead they got travel vouchers they can use for future work trips.

During the trip to Maine, records pulled by DDN showed former Huber Heights Superintendent Mario Basora used his district credit card to buy a lobster dinner that totaled $499, before they tipped in cash.

Enix said this meal and one other were more expensive than the district allows.

“When those receipts were brought back the treasurer’s office flagged those and were able to recoup those overages by payroll deductions,” Enix said.

Huber Heights taxpayers told I-Team’s John Bedell that they could think of better ways to spend federal COVID relief money.

“Yes, I have big concerns about that,” Robin Brown said.

“It could have been toward supplies, needs for the children,” she added.

Ashley Beal of Huber Heights agreed.

The I-Team brought up resident’s concerns to Enix.

“They were allowable expenses and they were a very, very small percentage of money the district has received,” he said.

The I-Team reached out to Basora for a comment but has not heard back.