Tomorrow night’s school board club meeting looks to be another Groundhog Day: Introductory functions, some awards, rubber stamping of everything presented by the administration, club member comments to each other about Oh, The Places They’ve Been! and more lack of accountability by anyone for anything. That will all be neatly followed by an adjournment for a well-run meeting and aren’t we so efficient at conducting the people’s business?!.

One of the items they’ll rubber stamp is the Consent Calendar, which has a whole lotta mumbo jumbo about whose getting paid and what they’re getting paid and hey! – I’m a school board club member and I trust the administration so I’m sure everything is fine.

Except everything is not fine. Do you wonder why the district is paying Shirley’s Bagels $3,244.80 in tax dollars? I do. Do you wonder why the district is paying The Icee Company $1,676.35 in tax dollars? I do.

Do you think any of the school board club members know or care about where your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent and why? They don’t. This money is, as Vicki Snell said in 2014 about the school board club’s $200,000+ travel budget, is “a drop in the bucket.”

There’s also over $20K being paid to at least one legal firm. Oh, and there’s Item 15.a.4. which is “Approval of the Retainer Agreement and Budget Allocation with Harbottle Law Group for Legal Services and Authorization for the Deputy Superintendent to Execute as Approved.”

Here’s the detail in italics:

Budget Impact:
Legal services are budgeted within department budgets regardless of the firm which provides the services.  In that the recommended action establishes a representational relationship between the legal firm and the District for general purposes the budgetary impact for this action creates a not to exceed allocation of existing resources of $225,000.  Expenditures through March, 2016 are $145,000 which is a ten percent (10%) decrease in expenditures from March, 2015.

No increase to the current hourly rates for the 2016-17 Retainer Agreement.  
Senior Associate Attorney: not to exceed $195 per hour
Junior Associate Attorneys: not to exceed $190 per hour
Paralegals and other assistants: not to exceed $95 per hour

The District follows a practice of securing the services of professional consultants based upon the District’s needs and the expertise that individual firms have available.  Due to the number of legal issues with which the District must deal, particularly in the area of Special Education, having a contractual relationship with several law firms assures that the District has the capacity to secure the professional advice that it requires in a timely manner. 

Current Consideration:
Given the number and complexity of legal issues facing the District,  Staff recommends that the District enter into an agreement with Harbottle Law Group for the provision of legal services in accordance with the rates contained in the Agreement. The schedule of fees is competitive with other firms offering legal services to school districts.

So, the bureaucrats want you to know that the enormous legal fees being spent on lawsuits from John Caldecott and Laura Boss and Ann Huntington are not the only legal expenditures. There is also that darn “area of Special Education.” As if it matters.

So what does this mean; what’s this money for? “contractual relationship” is bureaucratic-speak for a retainer.

As a service to the school board club members, here’s how to insist on some accountability from the team of educrats who are feeding at the public trough to the tune of millions of dollars in compensation each year. Just ask:

  1. Please explain how this program is designed to improve academic performance.
  2. Please provide at least on example of how/where this worked under similar circumstances.
  3. Please provide your benchmarking protocols so that we know whether this program is working.
  4. Please state the reporting intervals.

I don’t think that holding these people accountable is too much to ask. But they won’t. Why won’t they? Because they don’t care about holding the administration accountable, that’s why. And nuts to you!

Please pass the Icee.

Steve Smith