Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Community Trumps Your No Bid

How many times does this have to happen before our school board WAKES UP and starts BEING a school know....oversight body....accountability...fiscal responsibility? THAT school board.

It all starts with a simple check, check # 93054, to be precise.
Check# 93054
Date: 03/20/2009
Amount: $242.65

Which board members questioned this check? That's right....NONE of them.
So leave it to your citizen representative on the Finance Committee, who asked the questions: Who, what, why? The answers, as reported by Rhonda Page, District Office Business manager, are:
A student was using an I-Touch in class and a substitute teacher took it away. The sub teacher did not secure the device and it was stolen. Because the item was in the district's possession it is our responsibility to replace it. Jason Widiker received three quotes and we reimbursed the parent the amount of the lowest quote. Our insurance deductible is $1,000 so this replacement cost will not be reimbursed by the insurance company.
This is NOT intended in anyway to be an indictment of the substitute teacher, by the way. Rather, we want the board to answer a couple of questions:
  • Is there even a policy allowing teachers to confiscate these devices (there IS a policy regarding phones and pagers...but this is NOT a's a fancy IPod)?

  • If we ARE going to confiscate things, there IS a chance they could be this how we intend to deal with it?
Mr.'ve stated loud and clear that a school board's main role is as a policy setting body. And you represent the community so seems like you've got a need for some policies.

But, you know what....those aren't even the GOOD questions. We've been saving the best for last. Are you ready? Cuz here it comes...right between the eyes.... come administration went to the time and trouble of getting THREE bids to replace a used $243 item...
.....pause for effect....

....when you didn't require ANY bids for the architect work on the $100M new high school, renovation of existing high school, and pool?
Please, PLEASE spin this one for us. Please wiggle your way out of this one. You GAVE the job to Bray architects without ANY competitive bids...despite a policy requiring such (and a few citizens pleading with you to bid it out).
The policy directed procedure is clear:

1. Bids are not required for:
a. Instructional materials such as textbooks, books, tapes, films, workbooks, educational kits, periodicals, computer software and audiovisual materials.

b. Miscellaneous and operational supplies less than $5,000 or replacement parts for existing equipment where the value of the replacement parts are estimated to be less than 50 percent of the total value of the equipment.

c. Prices from single source vendors.

3. The District Administrator or his/her designee is authorized to purchase any single item or a quantity of the same item costing more than $5,000 but less than $25,000 upon the solicitation of at least three written bids.

4. Except as provided in sub-section 1, no purchases shall be made for supplies, services, or equipment costing $5,000 or more unless competitive quotations or bids for those items are obtained, provided the purchase is a budgeted item and the purchase is approved by the Board.

So...if architectural design costs (which were a cool $5M on the high school job) are NOT instructional materials or supplies under $5,000....WHY were no bids obtained as the policy states?

Are you ready?? You are gonna LOVE this! Because none other than Caren Diedrich argued that "because Bray Architects knows all our schools [Hello! that's because you've handed them every project!] they are a de facto "sole source vendor, which allows the district to award the job without bids. True story. Don't you just LOVE it? Isn't that just like one of those surprise endings on "The Practice" or "Law and Order"???

Here's what's sad. The school board...or at least 4 of them...BOUGHT Diedrich's weak (and that's being kind) --or wacky, you decide--argument. And THAT is why we spent what we did for the high school...for Creekside...for Horizon....without ANY competitive bidding to ensure that we couldn't get equal (or better) design for less cost.

But....we went out and got three bids to replace a stolen "IPod Touch" when policy doesn't even require it for amounts under $5,000. A Darwinian moment for sure.