Legislators Close Loophole
A lack of competitive bidding policies pertaining to service contracts costs every taxpayer and student millions in needless waste. This is obviously unfortunate, but not a violation of law or policy. School Districts and State entities have no idea what money can potentially be saved. Legislators should require service contracts by governmental entities to meet the same standards as public improvement contracts (construction) (Iowa Code Section 26.3(1)) which requires any public improvement contract with an estimated cost of $125,000.00 or greater be advertised for sealed bids by publishing a notice to bidders. The notice to bidders shall be published at least once, not less than four (4) and not more than 45 days before the date for filing bids, in a newspaper published at least once weekly and having a general circulation in the geographic area served by the governmental entity. Governmental entities can adjust the monetary threshold lower if they wish but at a bare minimum this will help to protect taxpayers from governmental bodies who do not take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. We are looking to stretch every dollar possible. There must be a mechanism that will force those who will not seek competition to do so. Taxpayers and our students deserve it.
In the ICCSD, Administrators and Board members are complaining that State funding is insufficient. At the same time, they have ignored competitive bidding on service contracts which number in the millions of dollars over many years. This is money they have a 100% control over. Get your own fiscal house in order first before you bellyache for more.
At last Tuesday’s Iowa City Community School District’s Board of Directors meeting, Superintendent Steve Murley asked the board to approve $103,000 from the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) fund to buy trust in district leadership. Yes, folks, I’m not kidding. This money is for an amazing new software package which “combines a software-driven online process with facilitation services in an unprecedented way to engage stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue, which in turn creates trust in the district.”
Wow. You mean Superintendent Murley and the board can buy the community’s full faith and trust in our administration for $103,000? And people say money can’t buy everything.
Some board members are fully on board with this snake oil treatment. If we’d only known that district trust isn’t created here by district leaders but comes in a $103,000 box from Spokane, Washington, we might have bought it sooner. There’s probably a cheaper version offered by “WHAM-O” or the “ACME” Company.
Remember, this is a limited time offer, so act now and you will get school board “trust-in-a-box” that will instill trust and virtue in elected officials who pay for contractors’ mistakes, redundancies of services, and allow administration to cut curriculum for students without taking any meaningful cuts of their own.
A superintendent who asks for the public’s trust before the Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) vote and days later applies for a job in Nebraska has not earned our trust, no matter how much money is spent. Administration has to spend the personal capital of time and character. Then the community will judge their actions to see if they deserve our trust. No, Virginia (district administration and board), you can’t buy trust in a box at any price. Trust is free to those who have earned it.