Wednesday, November 6, 2013

No kudos for the School District

    I do not recommend showering the School District staff with kudos for the outcome of the McKinstry contract dispute. Taxpayers in Blaine County suffered a multi-million-dollar loss from this fiasco. Attempting to justify the loss as being recoverable through the economic return of the contract is nonsense. A loss is a loss.
    The district’s attempt to convince the public that we received $20 million in value for a $5 million cost holds even less credibility. Based on a meager 40 years of executive management experience in the public and private sectors, I suspect that the district’s contract management process was and may still be flawed and warrants an in-depth critical review.
    Capital projects routinely encounter change orders. Work performed as a result of a change order is typically paid for in the first billing cycle following completion of the work, not as an additional all-encompassing invoice at the end of the contract. Why was the School District caught with its proverbial pants down at the end of McKinstry’s work effort?
    The school board’s decision that awarded the superintendent a pay increase and contract extension was nothing less than politically motivated. The board did not perform due diligence before making that decision. The board’s recent decision to pay the same superintendent $600,000 for a mutual separation based on a “change in philosophy” is another example of poor decision making at the expense of the taxpayers. The board’s statement that dismissal of the superintendent was not related to the McKinstry contract leads me to believe that the decision for separation was premature and again based on a lack of due diligence.
    The one saving grace comment that I have heard from many Blaine County citizens is that “the acting superintendent has a pretty good head on his shoulders.” My suggestion to the school board is to stop the “national Search” for a new superintendent and give the incumbent one year to identify and correct the relevant problems. If he accomplishes the job, the taxpayers win. If he does not, then we find someone that clearly understands sound business judgment, quality of leadership and true accountability to the taxpayers.
Richard Fife


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