Saturday, March 07, 2009

"Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner..."

Just how much money would you think the Edmonds School District would spend on renting tables for the WASL exams in 2009? If you guessed $23,712.98, you would be right.

Every year, the District spends upwards of $20,000.00 to rent a bunch of tables from the same vendor - year after year. This annual migration to the District's trough begs a few questions... Just how did this happen? What other vendors competed for this business? Is this within a pre-defined threshold for directing business without competition? Who made the decision? What connection does this decision maker have with the vendor? Are there professional affiliations? Are they related? This issue has to be investigated.

We already know that when a friend of management struggles to make ends meet in his practice, the District's decision maker just issues a directive to hire his spouse - after making space, of course. Just ask her supervisor if he thinks she is a productive member of staff. I suspect he'll tell you in private that someone else made the decision to hire her.

In this current economic climate, and considering the direction the WASL will be heading, why not just skip the test all together or just send students home with a "take home" WASL? The outcome would likely be the same. Let's make it happen.

No one on the Board seems willing or capable to ask real questions or hold anyone accountable. When will this condition change? How much longer do we have to pay a bunch of bobbleheads to blow through our "pre-ordained" property tax? It appears that this board thinks that any money spent in the District is money well spent. Any money thrown in the direction of schools is money well spent. Well, for the 70% of us that don't have children in district schools, we would disagree. Public funds must be spent responsibly and there is very little evidence of responsible spending going on at the District over the last several years.


Anonymous said...

And as a citizen with a kid in the district, I certainly do not want my kid growing up believing that reckless spending is somehow acceptable. My kid needs better models than that, to have any reasonable chance of success without cheating!

Anonymous said...

How much would one table cost? (I know it's more expensive than a table at Target cause it does have to be really sturdy.) How many tables do they rent each year?

Anonymous said...

Start at the top Nick $200,000 Marla $150,000 about, and all the Dept heads, each of them makes at least $100,000 or more. I don't think this is money well spent. But, I'm not at kissing someones ass too.

Anonymous said...

We need a solution. Let's hope there are meaningful choices this November to replace Phillips and McMurray.

While Anne talks too much and Susan talks too little, neither have said anything meaningful since arriving on the Board.

Rick Jorgensen said...

Not only are meaningful choices required but we must also be willing to get behind these candidates to support them.

The issues raised in this blog article are a bit more complex than presented. Yes, friends of Management need to operate using the same process as everyone else. If there are specific instances that can be made public of this practice, we should make it known and examine the public hiring record.

Regardless of how we feel about the WASL, the District is required to enforce it. Logistics for such an endeavor is very, very difficult to set up and proctor. This specific issue deserves it's own thread to discuss but there are good reasons for the District doing what it did with the rentals - I don't know about the "non-competitive" process but that too should be a matter of public record.

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason they can't use desks or existing tables? Library space? Wouldn't it make more sense to make a one-time investment in purchasing tables? Maybe sharing cost with a local college or organization that uses a large # of event tables on a limited, but not daily basis?

Rick Jorgensen said...

I don't know the specific details but I suspect one reason for not using the classrooms for the test is the need to proctor the exam. If it were done is small classrooms, you would need a lot of people to administer the test. I suspect teachers could do it but we would have the additional cost to train them and do the work (I don't believe that proctoring WASL tests are in their contract)

Buying the tables for a one time event a year is really expensive (I know - I looked into it for smaller events). Sharing the tables becomes a nightmare in terms of logistics.

There are really no good answers when it comes to this if you need to have it done physically but that is beside the point . I still agree with Mark that the procurement process needs to be open and transparent. There are too many previous instances of preferential treatment that is attributed to Ms. Miller's office that raises substantial questions of her fairness to direct public funds.

But then again.... I'm just a parent and am only guessing. Wouldn't it be novel for the district to respond on this here or their own blog page so we actually know what their position is? Wait - that would be too easy!

Anonymous said...

The District could purchase a whole lot of tables for $20,000!!
I am certain that the excuse would be storage! The new tables available are light in weight with folding legs and could be easily stacked. The District has many buildings that are not in use for storage, and we have able Warehousmen to transport the tables to buildings. What is their excuse? Does Marla have a friend who owns a rental company? Probably so!

Anonymous said...

Now they are buying ipods and iphones for administrators and principals. What for?