“Going to the Source” Confuses Spying Info

Spying Program Post

So the district is in high spin mode attempting to wring something resembling truth out of their own numbers. It would seem that most of the major players have been talking to get their stories straight on the amount of money they’ve paid to T&W Operations over the past year or two. (The duration of the length of time they’re willing to discuss keeps changing. I suppose that no one in the conversations realized that someone might have kept check registers for more than just one year.) The rather interesting part is that despite working together to synchronize their stories, they didn’t bother to check and see if their stories actually made sense.

You may review Elisa Ferrell’s comments on this matter on her campaign page post above, but in summary she claimed that this year we’ve paid T&W Operations the following:

“Thus far we have paid:
$283,500 for the COLT software
$366,650 for the labor for the asset inventory
$204,710 for the Promethean Board project
$157,190 for the Safety Consultant
We have a $76,000 +/- credit with T&W.”

The total amount that the district is claiming we’ve paid to T&W Operations is $1,088,050.00. Note that her post specifically states that the numbers she’s sharing with us include entering “into a contract in FY 2012-2013 with T&W when they did our asset management inventory.” (It’s important to note this, because this “fact” will change shortly.)

Ferrell claimed that the total amount paid to T&W Operations since FY2012-2013 (or FY2013 if you prefer) is $1,088,050.00.

“Safety Consultant” Makes $157,190.00

This amount also includes paying the “Safety Consultant” $157,190.00 in just 9 months (or possibly even just 7 months depending on what months are included in that number). The district has only made available check registries for 2014 through July 2014 so far. Assuming that is a 9 month total, we are paying the consultant $17,465.56 a month. In other words, this “safety consultant” is making in one month what a starting teacher is making in six months.

Ask yourself, which person is doing more to keep your child safe: the safety consultant sitting is a room somewhere stalking FaceBook, or your child’s teacher?

My vote would be the teacher.

Ferrell seems to disagree. As she wrote on her page:

Security Consultant Salary

The security consultant is a retired FBI agent who is a veteran in his field, not a new teacher, 22 year old fresh out of college and embarking on his or her first job.

It’s nice to see what she thinks of teachers and their place in the world, isn’t it? Again, who do you think is doing more to protect your child?

The problem with these numbers is that they are, once again, not supported by the evidence at hand. Here are a few of the issues:

We’ve Paid T&W Operations $2,107,034.68 Since August 2012

The district, as I pointed out last week, has written T&W Operations 25 checks from August 2012 through July 2014 (the most current register available to the public) totaling $2,107,034.68.

Here’s a listing of the checks:

T&WOperations2012-2014

If you would like to verify that I have transcribed the numbers correctly, I have copied the relevant check registers over to a dropbox folder that you may open here. The only modification that I have made to the registers is to highlight the checks that we’ve written specifically to T&W Operations. You may download the registers and look at each one if you’d like. (Since the district is only required by law to keep 12 months of registers posted on the website, I cannot link to a district hosted site for these records at the present time.)

Once I pointed out to Ms. Ferrell that the numbers she had posted on consist of about half the amount that she claimed was the total paid since FY2012-2013, she claimed that she would check on it.

Ferrell Next Claims that the Numbers She Shared as the Total were Only From the Current Fiscal Year

FY2013-2014 Claim

This doesn’t make much sense, as the “labor for the asset inventory” was a part of a 2012 contract, as even Ferrell noted in her opening post, but we’ll see what explanation the district comes up with next.

By the way, not that it should come as a surprise, but the total that we’ve paid T&W Operations so far according to the check register is $1,115,650.51 for FY2013-2014 (or FY2014), not $1,088,050.00 as the district is publicly claiming, but what’s $27,600.51 among friends. Oh, that’s right, it’s nearly a teacher’s salary, isn’t it?

In short, the numbers that the district has gone public with just simply do not add up.

2012-2013 Contract for Asset Inventory

Recomm T_W Operations Professional Services Contract_17118ctf0jy45ru5s5i45vx4tvv55

On August 16, 2012, the district entered into a contract with T&W Operations “to conduct an inventory of all non-expendable property . . . from August 2012 to August 2013” for $595,452.96.  This would seem to be the “$366,650 for the labor for the asset inventory.” This amount should not be included in a total from FY2013-2014 (FY2014) as the contract was to be completed by August 2013 or a full month before the beginning of the current fiscal year. You may download the complete contract for yourself here.

2013-2014 Contract for COLTS Hosting Solution

Recomm. COLTS Software Licensing Contract_23939ctf0jy45ru5s5i45vx4tvv55

Ferrell next claims that we paid “$283,500 for the COLT software” as well as “$204,710 for the Promethean Board project” as a part of this same contract. You may download this contract for yourself here, but as you can see, there is no mention of installing Promethean Boards anywhere in the contract.

COLTS Software Licensing Contract_23940ctf0jy45ru5s5i45vx4tvv55

In short, of the four items that Ferrell claims, that the district claims, we have paid T&W Operations over the period of either one or two fiscal years, the only one that isn’t clearly contradicted by the evidence at hand is the claim that Mr. Chris McRae, former FBI agent is being paid off the books as an “operational cost” like our exorbitant legal fees and our utility bills.

In other words, Ferrell is admitting that this secret, spying program is operating completely off the books, as I posted on Thursday.

This “operational cost” is still, however, a violation of Board policy 3.9.3a which specifically lists “contracts, purchase orders, or undertakings that entail an expenditure or financial commitment on the part of the Board” as applicable. They still haven’t demonstrated that the board has approved approximately $1,206,174.68 = [$2,107,034.68 – $900,860.00 (the sum of the three amounts listed above that might have been board approved)] of expenditures from the past two years.

Going to the Source

Ferrell Crows

Before I posted my questions on her candidacy page, Ferrell was quite busy crowing about how she went “to the source” to “get the facts rather than make decisions and proliferate bad information that is based solely on rumor and gossip.”

There are two points I’ll leave you with.

First, as with most things in this district, there is a double standard concerning who is able to have about 30 minutes of face to face time with the CSFO (or Superintendent) of our district. The moment that Wardynski believes that you’re asking a question that he doesn’t want to answer, he cuts you off.

Second, frankly, in this case it would seem that the information that has been collected and disseminated on Facebook and this blog has a much stronger connection to reality than her sources inside of Merts. Wardynski and crew seem to have great difficultly making their numbers add up. They also seem to have trouble coming out with even one story that can stand up to even basic scrutiny. Perhaps Ms. Ferrell is beginning to see this?

Yeah, I doubt it too.

We’ll see what story the district via one of their several mouthpieces will come up with next to explain these all of this.

 
Russell
"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.

13 Comments

  1. I am not an accountant, so there are many procurement terms that I don’t understand. For example, when Mrs. Ferrell states that “We have a $76,000 +/- credit with T&W”, does she meant that HCS has actually already overpaid T&W for services not yet performed? If so, was this $76K overpayment for software, or asset inventory, or a safety consultant, or just some general slush fund for whatever HCS wants? Are there dollar thresholds for non-competitive bids (or with sole-source justification requirements)? Are the HCS books ever audited by an independent auditor? Does the Superintendent have an obligation to notify the Board of any potentially sensitive procurements before funds are obligated or spent (regardless of dollar threshold)? Whatever happened to the ACLU request for public records pursuant to the Alabama Code? I am not saying that anything is wrong … just that there is a lot of confusion … and very little actual information from our public servants or elected board members. … and that is very damning.

    1. I fear that Michelle is correct … a vote for Ms. Ferrell is a vote for status quo. If you like things so far … you will love her on the Board. Her teacher description was very revealing. It reminded me of a previous Russell comment: “When you devalue teachers, you teach kids to devalue education. Obama devalues teachers. Arne Duncan devalues teachers. Bill Gates devalues teachers. Eli Broad and the Walton Foundation devalue teachers. Teach for America devalues teachers. Common Core devalues teachers. Democrats, Republicans, politicians of every stripe devalue teachers. Here locally, Wardynski devalues his “feed stock” and his board of education just gave him a glowing evaluation (that he, naturally, designed himself—he doesn’t appreciate being evaluated on things he has no control over). Often times parents devalue teachers even in front of their children. And worst of all sometimes even teachers get swept up in the pile on and devalue their peers.

      The most significant lesson that students learn in all of this is simple: Education is worthless.”

      Do we want real teachers … or just test proctors, hall monitors, babysitters, and IT technicians?

  2. Is paying someone “off the books” legal for a school system? How many sets of books does the HCS have going? Aren’t contracts for public school systems supposed to be put out for bid? Aren’t new positions supposed to be advertised?

  3. I can’t seem to find the HCS check registry anymore. It use to be easy to find it. Do you have the link to the bank that posts the HCS account records on line?

    I found Ms Ferrell to be offensive last night when she continued to imply that the data we ordinary folks were discussing came from a “blog”, and that she had just taken the time to ask a few people and she knew everything that was going on. That just made me so mad. Basically, saying anyone that reads information here on this blog is just plain stupid and incapable of finding data themselves. I tell you what, I wish there were more people researching and putting the facts together and presenting them for public discussion. Instead of all these district people telling me how stupid I am for not believing the story they are telling.

    Where is the district’s official full account of the timeline the dollars and the point of contacts? If Mr. Winn can spend his free time looking up and publishing this data, then I better see some paid district personal put some letters on some paper too. I guarantee it won’t be as accurate and detailed as the data here. To make it worse, it’ll probably take a year for them to get that done.

    Now if we want to morph this conversation. How many armed police officers are standing in the hallway each morning as the children are arriving to school? Is that based on threat level? gang activity? student population? Who decides how many of these on duty police officers are stationed and where? Is Dr Wardynski telling the chief of police how to do his job? Just how is that arranged?

  4. These are the questions I would like to see the media ask, and school district answer, regarding #SpyGate:

    1. Where did the budget, man hours, and equipment for this come from, and on whose authority?

    2. When did holding a gun or throwing a gang sign become illegal, and where does a school district get the legal authority to investigate, prosecute, and punish students for non-school activities?

    3. How/where are minors obtaining sub machine guns and fists full of $100.00 bills?

    4. If students are entering schools with guns wouldn’t it be more economical to install metal detectors like the ones citizens have to go through when they come to the Merts Center to attend school board meetings?
    http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/05/huntsville_school_board_meetin.html

  5. Yes, since we are aware that everyone who wants to know anything about the HCS board is reading this blog. How about some answers from the district office in writing? Who on the board will stand up to OUR Superintendent and say “you, Sir, are in violation of HCS policy”? The HCS board should also demand a public apology and a full disclosure from OUR Superintendent. I bet not one sitting board member has the professional courage to stand up and say that to Dr. Wardynski. Therefore, they do not represent we the people/kids that have to follow the HCS policy or face punishment.

    Last day to vote via absentee ballot in person is tomorrow. Elections do matter !!!

    1. I agree Ticondergo, not one BOE member of candidate has the professional courage to stand up to Dr. Wardynski. And elections used to matter, now money matters. We have the best BOE special interest money can buy. Ferrell or Knowles, two sides of the same coin IMHO it doesn’t matter which won “wins” because it will be a loss for the students and parents.

  6. Not surprising that the HCS can keep its big numbers straight. It can’t mange 2nd or 3rd grade addition.I had a look at the 2012-2013 SIR or Student Incident Report and have concluded that the HCS is so incompetent, indifferent, sloppy, and/or arrogant that it can not add up a row of numbers.

    I’m not talking off by 1 or 2 in a long report. I’m talking about what should be obvious to anyone. Take for example Davis Hills. Total number of incidents: 783. Then 6 categories of disciplinary actions are listed, The totals for each category are 407, 28, 3, 9, 0, 444. I’m not going to bother whipping out my calculator because any fool can see that there’s a problem just by seeing the 407 and 444.

    And this happens over and over and over again in the 19 page report.

    See for yourself. Go here and choose the last doc listed: http://www.hsv-k12.org/Default.asp?PN=DocumentUploads&L=2&DivisionID=11142&DepartmentID=11320&LMID=470001&ToggleSideNav=%20%20%20

    Or try this direct link.

    http://www.hsv-k12.org/Download.asp?L=2&LMID=470001&PN=DocumentUploads&DivisionID=11142&DepartmentID=11320&SubDepartmentID=&SubP=&Act=Download&T=1&I=273384

    1. And while in some cases, like fighting, I can see where more punishments than incidents is altogether possible, in fact would have to be since I assume that fighting with yourself would not be an offense, I can’t see how 7 people would be punished for 4 knife possessions, or 82 instances of profanity can yield 90 punishments. Or at Ed White 6 unauthorized absences can be reconciled with 7 punishments. Or at Grissom why one person out of 19 caught using tobacco wasn’t punished.

  7. So, we pay a company $157K for a partial year of part-time security counselor service. Ms Ferrell correctly notes that it is not fair to compare this 22 year FBI veteran salary to that of a new teacher just out of college. OK, lets compare the $157K part-time, partial year salary to that of a 22 year veteran of the classroom. Any of you experienced teachers (with 22 years service) making $157K for nine months part-time work? Was this position/contract/expense advertised? How much of this sensitive operation was approved by the BoE and when was it approved by the BoE?

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