School Board votes to keep technology in emergency meeting

Some Board members concerned after superintendent purchases technology

The+Board+of+Education+held+an+emergency+meeting+Friday%2C+Oct.+4%2C+during+which+they+discussed+whether+or+not+to+keep+technology+purchased+several+months+ago.+

By Jack Lopez

The Board of Education held an emergency meeting Friday, Oct. 4, during which they discussed whether or not to keep technology purchased several months ago.

An emergency School Board meeting was held on Friday, Oct. 4 as a result of confusion following superintendent Dr. Doug Sumner’s purchase of technology several months ago.

The confusion started after the Board meeting on Monday, July 29, in which the Board approved purchasing new equipment to replace outdated equipment present currently in use and to improve the district’s technology infrastructure.

The district proceeded to use K12itc, the district’s technology services and support provider, to purchase equipment from multiple vendors. The total cost was $926,624.49, according to director of administrative services and community relations Alvie Cater.

After this occurred, some Board members believed that both Board and state policy had been violated. Both policies require that the district allow businesses to competitively bid for a service if a purchase exceeds $20,000. Instead, the district made the purchase through K12itc.

“Unfortunately, there was a mistake made,” Board member Scott Hancock told the Kansas City Star. “$20,000 is the limit and there was a million-dollar purchase. It was poor decision-making at the very least.”

“The Board members had every right to be concerned … and we’re glad they asked the questions,” Cater said. “The Board members had questions and rightly so.”

According to Cater, Sumner had not violated state policy because the purchase was made under an exemption to the law called Incidental to Services. However, after Board member Scott Hancock questioned whether or not bids had gone out in August, Sumner voided the original check for the purchase.

However, by the Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 16, the manufacturer’s 30-day window to return the equipment was no longer open. By Thursday, Oct. 3, the Johnson County district attorney’s office had confirmed that the district had not violated state law, but the Board still had to decide between two options: keep the equipment and pay for it or return the equipment, pay for it and pay a restocking fee.

At the emergency meeting, the Board finally approved by a 5-2 vote to purchase and keep the equipment. Additionally, the district has decided to follow the bidding policy for purchases greater than $20,000 in the future.

“We’re going to ask the Board of Education to direct us on these purchases, and that means seeking competitive pricing,” Cater said. “To avoid confusion, we’re going to make sure the Board understands how we will proceed with purchases, and that means competitive bidding.”

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