Less than three-tenths (3/10) of one percent (1%) of the General Fund.
This is an important number to keep in mind because that is the specific amount that Dr. Wardynski is authorized to “enter into contracts, purchase orders, or undertakings that entail an expenditure or financial commitment on the part of the Board . . . without prior express Board approval” according to Board Policy 3.9.3.a Expenditures.
Board Policy On Expenditures
Here’s the complete text of the policy:
a. Superintendent – The Superintendent is authorized to enter into contracts, purchase orders, or undertakings that entail an expenditure or financial commitment on the part of the Board of less than three-tenths (3/10) of one percent (1%) of total general fund expenditures without prior express Board approval. The Superintendent’s authorization for expenditures hereby granted is subject to any restrictions imposed by law and the following terms and conditions:
i. This policy shall not be effective if formal Board action and approval is required by law;
ii. The transaction and payment shall meet other applicable legal requirements, if any (e.g., the bid law);
iii. The board-approved budget must contain funds for the expenditures;
iv. All such expenditures shall be reported to the Board of Education on a monthly basis.
v. The restrictions on expenditures contained in the policy shall apply to the total of the expenditures in question, and payments may not be made in installments or otherwise divided in order to avoid the restrictions.
Nothing herein shall be deemed to create or give rise to personal liability on the part of any Board official for any good faith error, oversight, or excusable neglect in the administration of this policy.
Three tenths of one percent.
For the fiscal year that is coming to a close on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, the total General Fund budget is $204,975,280.37 according to the budget hearing from September 5, 2013. Just to be on the safe side, let’s round that figure up to $205,000,000.00 (what’s an extra $25,000 among friends). So exactly how much money does the superintendent have to play with without board approval?
Well using my mental math and estimation as Wardynski requires of his students, one percent of $205,000,000.00 would be $2,050,000.00. Three tenths of $2,050,000.00 would be $615,000.00
That’s right, the board will allow Wardynski to enter into “contracts, purchase orders, or undertakings” for up to $615,000.00 for the fiscal year closing on Tuesday, September 30, 2014.
That’s a huge number. And yet it evidently isn’t enough for Wardynski. Before we move on, take another look at Policy 3.9.3.a.v., which states:
The restrictions on expenditures contained in the policy shall apply to the total of the expenditures in question, and payments may not be made in installments or otherwise divided in order to avoid the restrictions.
So, the superintendent cannot break the payments up into smaller amounts to avoid this restriction. Thus it is appropriate to look at the total amount the district has paid a vendor during a fiscal year.
District has Approved Payments to T&W Operations of $283,456.00 in FY2014
Let’s take another look then at the amount of money that the district has paid T&W Operations from October 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014 (the August/September 2014 check registers have not been released yet.)
The only current contract with T&W Operations is for the building of the COLTS Inventory Management System. This contract was approved by the Board on July 18, 2013 for a total amount of $400,147.20. As it was approved on July 18th, it is reasonable to assume that the terms of the contract ran from August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014. As you can see from the last page of the contract below, the payments for FY2014 then would have run from Month 3 Monthly Installment through Month 12 Monthly Installment of $28,345.60.
Thus, Wardynski had Board approval to expend $283,456.00 for T&W Operations’ actions during FY2014.
District has Paid T&W Operations $1,115,650.51 to Date in FY2014
This is all well and good, but as we saw on Thursday, September 25, 2014, the district has written T&W Operations 11 checks from October 1, 2013 to July 31, 2014 for a total expenditure of $1,115,650.51.
Thus, Wardynski has, as of July 2014, exceeded the total amount that he is authorized to expend by $217,194.51, and there are still two months left to report in the fiscal year. Assuming that the last two months of expenditures hold steady, the total amount that Wardynski will have expended without board approval for FY2014 will be approximately $1,200,000.00.
That total would be twice the amount that Wardynski is allowed to spend without board approval.
In other words, our superintendent has violated school board policy. Our school board has allowed him to violate school board policy. (They have more access to the check register than I do, by the way.)
Anyone want to place a wager on how long it takes them to develop a contract for T&W Operations’ services now?
Perhaps it is time that the Board began paying as much attention to Wardynski as they do to getting elected and covering their rears when they’re caught with their pants down.
By the way, I owe a huge thank you to a certain “secret” pro-Wardynski Facebook group for getting the facts concerning this policy completely wrong. I wouldn’t have had the idea to write about this otherwise. Keep up the cheerleading, y’all.
Approvals??? I don’t need no stinkin’ approvals. I’m the boss !!!!! The Board is just for the sake of appearance.
Nice, “geek” allusion . . . I REALLY wish that we had a board so that I could return to writing about geeky stuff again.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Your research is crucial to my campaign and to the citizens of Huntsville. Keep up the good work. I will need to verify your figures, but you have made preparing for my debate on Monday much more simple. I trust you will keep me honest while I am on the School Board.
Please do, verify everything. If you find I’ve gotten something incorrect, let me know and I’ll correct it immediately. Unlike our superintendent, I’m not afraid to show my work, nor to admit if I get something wrong. 🙂
Thanks for reading,
I appreciate your interest in this matter, but I am concerned Russell’s work is being used for your political gain. He and others have been sounding the alarm for months, strike that, years. I guess my question is where have you been, and now that you know what is happening, what are you going o about it when and if you are elected? I wish this issue had come up during the general election so all the candidates could have weighed in. I await your reply.
If he busted his limit on this one contract he would not be able use spend on anything else without prior bore approval. That could be a bit inconvenient from time to time.
As I read the policy, the limit resets for each vendor. So potentially he can authorize $615,000 to more than a single vendor.
I haven’t completed the research yet, but I’ve never found a board approved contract for LEANFrog’s services, and we’ve paid them a total of $654,183.55 from October 2013 – July 2014. They appear to also be in violation of the $615,000 limit at the present time.
The question is why did they bring THIS contract forward? It is under the limit of the 3/10 of one percent. The one thing I know about this board is everything is very well orchestrated…..
I’m not sure I follow you. Which contract? The COLTS contract, and any contract approved by the board can be for any amount.
The three-tenths is what he can spend without board approval, and the overages paid to T&W exceed that amount.
He can enter into a contract that is under three-tenths of 1%, which by your calculations is $615,000. The original T&W contract was for almost $600,000 and the second, a year later, was slightly over $400,000. He didn’t have to get approval for those.
Ah, true, but those weren’t controversial. He needed to be able to claim how terrible inventory management had been before he arrived, so those contracts were beneficial to be made public.
It’s more beneficial for him to keep the spying program off the books so he can use it to spy on whomever he wishes with impunity. He didn’t want anyone to know that this program existed.
Sad so much money is changing hands. Millions or dollars, and we have to hope and beg that our kids get the books/technology/services they need.
You caught him basically breaking his own rules. Fantastic research, but what’s the point? He’s not a honest person. However, our SB hired him and they have no intention of punishing him in any way. In fact, I bet they will all fall in line to help him correct his policy miscalculation. A simple bookkeeping mistake – and all is forgiven. The SB says “oh, we didn’t know.” Yeah right.
Thanks for bringing this into light.
Here is my thought regarding the secrecy element. For years — practically since they implemented the 1:1 transition — the HCS policy handbook was amended to include reference to technological offenses that were punishable under school rules, and these offenses clearly went beyond behavior committed on school-issued computers. Therefore, to me, it was immediately apparent that some form of monitoring of student social media HAD to be occurring. How else could they have enforced those policies?
So a question that remind for me is whether this means that only PUBLIC social media information is being accessed, or if HCS is undermining privacy measures that people have put in place on these accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I necessarily support this initiative, I just think that if students are leaving their accounts unprotected, what is being observed by the so-called “spies” is public speech. At least from the reports I’ve read, it appears that students are not specifically being punished for the speech, but for violative behavior that is discovered after using the social media posts as a sort of “probable cause” to engage in a more personal, thorough inquiry.
That’s a crucial question that hasn’t been answered yet. Thanks!
I find it very worrisome than the Watcher is retired with 22 yrs in the FBI. I think if not unrealistic to think he is probably using old contacts to go where another person couldn’t — and no one is going to admit to doing little favors for him,
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