Buried school board agendas

Marsha Sutton
Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton

Although not very sexy, some items buried beneath the newsier issues on local school board agendas deserve at least fleeting attention.

Most have to do with money and policy, which may not be exciting but, at least for edu-philes, constitute the foundation for many of the stories that make the front page. How public money is allocated in education, and how school boards set priorities and make budget and policy decisions, is the basis for all the rest that flows from there.

In the Solana Beach School District, at its Sept. 12 meeting, the contract with superintendent Nancy Lynch was extended through June 30, 2016 and her salary was increased by 5 percent, to $170,000 annually, retroactive to July 1, 2013.

According to the board report, “This amount is reflective of the 5 percent increase in total compensation provided to certificated employees during the 2012-2013 school year.”

In the special education department, Xcite Steps received a contract not to exceed $9,000 for one student to receive intensive behavioral support, according to the board report. Another special education student will be receiving nursing services at the rate of $39 per hour, for an amount not to exceed $30,000, through a contract approved by the board with Dependable Nursing of Carlsbad. Both contracts are effective through June 30, 2014.

A change order for a contract with American Fence Company of San Marcos is to provide additional fencing at Solana Beach schools. The original contract went out to bid months ago and was awarded after a review of several firms responding to the Request for Proposals.

The original contract was for about $120,000 and with additions and changes is now at $146,000, as approved by the board Sept. 12.

This is legit and not a big deal, but it got me thinking about change orders, which occur when the scope of work expands after the contract has already been approved. So many contracts that are legally awarded through the RFP process end up with change orders approved later, and these change orders sometimes significantly increase the amount of the original contract. But no one re-bids on the new contracts because the contracts have already been awarded to one firm.

It’s a system that seems ripe for abuse and makes me wonder how many original bidders who were denied the work could have bid on the revised total project for a lesser amount than the firm that was given the contract. For those firms already selected, it can be a nice windfall to not have to rebid on the change orders and to be given additional work without worrying about competitive bids.

As the San Dieguito Union High School District proceeds with major construction and facility work through its Proposition AA bond money, paying more attention to the change orders might be worthwhile.

Also at the Sept. 12 meeting, a three-year contract with Apple Computer was approved for about $50,000. And at its Aug. 22 meeting, the SBSD board approved technology expenses for about $938,000.

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