I started to write about the somewhat odd fact that a regular DeKalb County School System Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 4, 2010, but is to be followed by a “called” meeting at 9 AM on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. The impromptu “called” meeting -- scheduled for the same time as the regularly scheduled meeting of the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council (DCPC) -- will cover topics that are of critical importance to
Apparently, both Jim Redovian and Pam Speaks are okay with a last-minute, unscheduled morning meeting that directly conflicts with a DCPC scheduled meeting. The called meeting essentially eliminates an opportunity for their constituents to be present for the BOE’s discussion of important financial matters. Most of the BOE may not hold regular jobs, but most of their taxpaying constituents do.
Personally, I think that DCPC should adjourn to the Palace on Wednesday, October 6 and hold their meeting in the board room following the BOE meeting ...
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I took a look at the DCSS BOE agenda for Monday night to see what was so important that there was no room for the critical topics that the BOE is attempting to “bury” in a weekday morning meeting.
I did not have to go far. Item #3 on the Agenda is requesting a blanket approval from the BOE for a long list of “vendors”, allowing all on the list to exceed the $50,000 maximum (required by the recently approved BOE policy for Purchasing, descriptor code DJE) in annual costs for goods and services -- without any further approvals.
Geez! These people are sl-o-o-o-ow learners! Whatever makes Marcus Turk and Ramona Tyson think that asking for this kind of pre-approval in this time of tight finances and diminished trust is okay -- or even smart?
Worse, Turk, Tyson and the BOE clearly don't know what/who is on the list. There are 335 “vendors” on the list. Multiply $50,000 by 335. Suddenly, it morphs into BIG money: $16,750,000. And that's just if those “vendors” don't exceed $50,000 for the year. But, the BOE is being asked to give blanket approval for the “vendors” to exceed $50,000 without any further approval.
So, let's take a look at those “vendors”:
· 112 were not listed as businesses by the Georgia Secretary of State;
· 7 were listed as “revoked” by the Georgia Secretary of State;
· 10 more were businesses that had been dissolved; and
· at least 3 “vendors” were listed twice.
But, wait! There's more!
· There are 14 “vendors” of textbooks/instructional materials on the list – but many DCSS classrooms still do not have textbooks. That does not compute!
· And, speaking of “compute,” at least 9 “vendors” on the list are IT/MIS/computer/ technology services-related. DCSS is paying consultants in addition to the bloated and ineffective DCSS IT department?
· 20 are construction-related, but 3 of those are businesses that have been dissolved and 4 are not listed as businesses by the Georgia Secretary of State;
· 16 were listed as F F & E (furniture, fixtures and equipment), but 12 of those are not listed as businesses by the Georgia Secretary of State;
· 4 more were listed as furniture “vendors”, but 2 of those do not seem to exist;
· 42 are instructional-related, but more than half (23) are not listed as businesses on the Georgia Secretary of State website; and
· 22 – including at least 2 churches -- are Title I tutors. How are these tutors working out for DCSS? To quote the title of a book written by Bob Hope, former PR person for the Atlanta Braves, “We could have finished last without you.”
I could go on – and I am happy to send the Excel spreadsheet that I created to anyone who asks (firstname.lastname@example.org), but I am sure you get the picture.
Oh, wait -- one more thing: there are 8 -- yes, count 'em -- 8! -- legal services “vendors.” They are:
· Alexander & Associates;
· Buckley & Klein, LLP;
· Harben, Hartley & Hawkins, LLP;
· King & Spalding;
· Phillips & Morgan, LLP;
· Sutherland, Asbill, Brennan, LLP;
· Weatherly Law Firm, LLP and
· the Honorable Thelma W. Cummings Moore.
How comfortable are you with giving these legal services “vendors” a blank check?
How comfortable are you with giving blanket approval for the 335 “vendors” on the list to be presented at the October 4, 2010 BOE meeting, enabling each one to exceed $50,000 without any further approval?
Via this posting and e-mail sent separately to each BOE member – including my BOE member, Jim Redovian, who is up for re-election – I am asking that the recently approved BOE purchasing policy, descriptor code DJE, be followed exactly as written from this point forward.
This BOE and the current DCSS Palace Guard (central office administrators) have not earned the right to request any exceptions to policies put in place to protect our tax dollars, ensure accountability and benefit our students and teachers. Quite frankly, for this group, even allowing up to $50,000 per “vendor” in “spending without line-item approval” seems excessive. And foolhardy.