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Saturday, April 21, 2012

#Marshfield #School #District #Desperately #Needs #Bid #Reform

This is why we desperately need to follow the ABCs of a good school government. Audits, Accountability and Accessibility via the Freedom of Information Act. BID REFORM, Building Maintenance and a Balanced Budget that is not running a 6 Million Dollar Deficit the next 2 school years. Cuts, Caps on Spending and Cooperation with state budget reforms could help us get there. Deets and Geegan wanted to move out of the Middle School against the will of the people. Now, the will of the people will be clearly spoken when the referendum is defeated. Then the ones that need to move out are Deets and Geegan.
                                                                        ~Scott Kenneth Noble

"The school district superintendent has stated that 'school district administrators are in compliance of all laws,' which may or may not be correct. The school district administrators are not adhering to school district policy or good business practice, and that is a fact.
A contractor using a concrete saw cut through electrical feeders and caused damage to district facilities, and when I asked the dollar value of the damage, I was told it was unknown. I then asked who paid for the damage and was told the district did not pay for the damage. When I asked who did pay for the damage, I was told it was unknown.
The permit for the repair was for $5,000. The administration should find out who paid for the damage by simply asking the contractor who did the repair to supply them with the invoice and verify the payer.
When asked for copies of competitive bids on specific projects, the district stated that they were not required to competitively bid projects because they had a service contract. When asked for a copy of the service contract, the district stated that they could not locate the service contract.
A request to the district for invoices from 2007 (when the service contracts last were bid and signed) to the present time produced invoices with rate and hour information redacted (blacked out). I informed the district numerous times that by Wisconsin Statute they could not redact information from a public record, yet they continued to withhold the information until I contacted the Wood County District Attorney who, with direction of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, informed the district that they had to release the redacted information.
I received copies of the invoices on April 9, 2012, after months of repeated request. The invoices showed that the district had increased the labor rate in 2009 and again in 2011 without competitively bidding the service contracts.
The school administration official who made the decision to redact the information with full knowledge that the district should have rebid the service contracts each time there was a rate change, should be censured by the school board. This not only appears intentionally obstructive to state statutes regarding public records, but clearly shows that the district was not following its own policy.
Withholding information did not ensure a fair bidding process as Mr. Saucerman claims, because the district had not been competitively bidding these projects. The district signed new service contracts on Nov. 7, 2011, without competitively bidding those contracts, another clear violation of Marshfield School District policy.
A request was made for competitive bids for a power and data project at Grant Elementary in 2009; the district responded that it was not required to bid that project because it had a service contract (which it was unable to produce). A second request for competitive bids for the $65,000 project produced the following response: 'By the guidelines of the Internal Revenue Service, the district is not required to keep copies of competitive bids that are not awarded.' The district gave the same response when asked for competitive bids from a painting project of $18,250 from August 2011.
Wisconsin open records Statute 19.21(6) clearly states that school districts shall keep records for seven years. Statute 19.32(2) clearly states that a competitive bid is a 'record' and 19.31 declaration of policy explains why access to records is important. I would hope that the administration of the Marshfield School District and the school board members have read through the Wisconsin open records statute, especially 19.01, which explains their duties.
As backup to another request for the competitive bids for the August 2011 painting projects, the district sent me a copy of the contractor's invoice for $1,200 and included a signed copy of the purchase order for that invoice. The signed copy of the purchase order was for $12,000. The contractor informed me that someone from the district left him a message that he (the contractor) had made a mistake on his $1,200 invoice and that he should send a new one for the correct amount. The contractor called the district and informed them that it was their mistake, not his. When the district director was questioned about the incident, she told a board member that it was the contractor's mistake. If the contractor had not been honest, I believe the district would have spent an extra $10,800 of taxpayer money, and no one would have discovered the mistake.
This has been a very long process and not a very pleasant one. The district has tried many different tactics to discourage me from obtaining public records and asking appropriate questions, including spending thousands of dollars in legal fees, and imposing a personal protocol for my requests of open records that I believe is against state statutes and is an attempt to obstruct my First Amendment rights. I believe the school district's attorney works for me as a citizen, not as a personal attorney for district administration. I believe the residents of Marshfield deserve a full accounting of legal fees paid and a refund from the law firm for poor legal opinion.
Ms. Geegan and Mr. Deets publicly can state that 'no laws have been broken' and the administration has handled things appropriately, but I believe the district business practices need to be carefully scrutinized."
Wrtten by John Nikolai (Marshfield School District resident)
Source: Marshfield New-Herald

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