When then state superintendent Mike Sentence took over the Montgomery County school system early in 2017 one of his first moves was to sign a three-year. no-bid contract for $708,000 to bring Huntsville City school’s Chief Financial Officer, Jason Taylor, to Montgomery.
Actually the contract was with Northbay Strategic Partners LLC, an entity hastily put together by Taylor.
Taylor did begin working on Montgomery’s financials, which were a mess to say the least. However, from conversations I have had with other CFOs and local superintendents around the state, Taylor many have been better at sleight of hand than anything else. Those familiar with Taylor’s work in Montgomery were skeptical of how he was shifting funds from one account to another. They did not agree with his actions.
But we are now months beyond when Taylor entered the picture. Mike Sentance is long gone and Eric Mackey is now state superintendent.
But where is Jason Taylor?
All we know for sure is that the state is still paying Northbay Strategic Partners $19,250 a month According to the state open checkbook web site, his last check was Sept. 13. The first check was May 17, 2017. We have now paid Northbay $346,875.
Montgomery County has its own CFO these days, Arthur Watts. He started in late July.
Since being appointed to the Montgomery board Aug. 31, I have asked several other board members if they knew where Taylor is or what he is doing. None had a clue.
So at the first board meeting I attended on Sept. 11, which was a budget hearing, I asked publicly about Taylor. Terry Roller is the state’s chief administrative officer for the intervention these days. He told me Taylor no longer has any duties involving Montgomery. However, this not what state superintendent Mackey says.
After I inquired about Taylor to a state board member, Mackey said that Taylor is very engaged trying to get Montgomery’s financial house in order. He was also adamant that MPS is not paying any of Taylor’s contract.
I am not the only one curious about what Taylor is doing and where he is. Josh Moon with Alabama Political Reporter is also asking questions–and coming up as blank as I am.
Of course I am glad MPS is not writing Taylor’s monthly check for $19,250–but that is beside the point. I also pay state taxes and the fact that the state is paying this much a month and doesn’t appear to know what its for does not sit well with me.
I gave $50 today to a teacher at Ware’s Ferry elementary in Montgomery to buy tables for her classroom. I did this through the DonorsChoose.org web site. This is the fifth such donation I’ve made in recent weeks. At this moment there are 47 projects at 16 Montgomery schools listed on this site. They need $42,000 to buy cleaning supplies, books, paper, chrome books, etc.
Three checks to Jason Taylor would way more than fund each of these projects.
If Jason Taylor is really doing something worth while for education in Alabama, fine. But the fact that we don’t seem to know blows my mind. Maybe if he shows up he will donate some money to MPS schools.