The Legislative Contract Review Committee had questions today about the $762,000 no-bid contract the state department of education is trying to get for a brand new compay to provide financial services and again slowed the process down.

The always reliable reporter Mary Sell with the Decatur Daily wrote this article detailing what is going on.

She reports:  Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, asked the contract be delayed.

“The department of education brought the contract to me prior to the meeting and as I read the contract, it was for $200,000-plus,” Knight said today. “When I saw the (contract review agenda), it was for $700,000.”

Knight said he had to attend a Read Across America event that conflicted with the contract review meeting, so he asked for the delay.

“I had it held up until I have a full understanding of what the contract is for, who’s being paid out of the contract and what the deliverables are, that sort of thing,” Knight said.

Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, said he was concerned the company, established in late January according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, was “virtually created” for this contract.”

So a $200,000 contract morphed into one that is $500,000 larger?   Shades of the Alabama Accountability Act that went from seven pages to 28 pages during a conference committee.

“ALSDE issued a statement this afternoon about the contract, saying the department plans to fundamentally improve student achievement throughout the state and contractual agreements are needed to identify necessary scopes of work and engage adequate resources.

“The costs of these services (by Taylor) is commensurate with market value expectations for someone with Mr. Taylor’s professional experience and capabilities,” ALSDE spokesman Michael Sibley said. “MPS is in need of strong fiscal management. We believe Mr. Taylor can provide the oversight necessary to help MPS meet its full potential.”  

Would someone tell me how a CFO is directly involved in “fundamentally improving student achievement?”  I thought student achievement was the realm of teachers and principals.

According to the Decatur Daily article, Taylor would be paid $708,000 over three years.  He would also get $15,000 a year for travel and $5,000 a year “accommodation stipend.”

Yet the state superintendent wants to cut out AMSTI and ARI.  And we expect teachers to spend $300-$500 a year out of their pocket for supplies and materials for their classrooms.

We have a very serious case of misplaced priorities at the state department of education it appears.  But then when you have a state superintendent calling the shots who has never worked in a classroom or a school, what do you expect?  Obviously he has no understanding of the reality of the classroom or a school sitting between a cotton patch on one side and a peanut patch on the other like Huxford Elementary in Escambia County.

There is no other way to say it–we’re in a mess under the direction of this state superintendent.  The state school board got us into it.  And it’s time for them to get us out of it.  Some 730,000 public school students deserve better.