School district questioned on bid process

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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A question as to how much money a consultant could save the school district resulted in an item being pulled off of the consent agenda during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. If the item had passed Tuesday, the Western Placer Unified School District would have entered into an agreement with School Innovations and Advocacy to provide services “related to preparing the district’s mandated cost claims,” according to the item’s fact sheet. Western Placer Teachers Association president Mike Agrippino questioned the agreement. “Have we priced it out, looked at other companies that do it cheaper?” Agrippino asked. “Are we going to get a return on our money?” Agrippino also wanted to know if the district “needs to hire anybody.” “These are questions I hope I’m not the only one asking but that the district has asked,” Agrippino said. The contract between School Innovations and Advocacy is $13,200 a year for the next three years, according to the fact sheet. “What they do is collect the mandated hours that we have engaged in as a district and they put it in a form to submit to the state so we can claim the mandated costs,” the school district’s Superintendent Scott Leaman said. “When the law says we have to engage in a mandated activity, we can claim reimbursement for that activity.” Those activities include negotiations, special education assessment and STAR testing, Leaman said. School Innovations and Advocacy helps the district “make sure forms are submitted correctly so we can get out money back,” according to Leaman. Leaman said the district received $500,000 in mandate reimbursement two years ago because of the company’s work. The item was pulled from the consent agenda that night because Joyce Lopes, the school district’s assistant superintendent of business services, wasn’t there Tuesday night to answer Agrippinio’s question about whether the district had looked at other companies. “If the board would like to wait, it’s not a problem,” Leaman said. One board member expressed a desire to hold the item until Lopes was on hand to answer questions about the agreement. “I’d pull it because I’d like to see if there is competition,” board member Brian Haley said.