Boiler Contract Prompts Region 9 Financial Review

As we reported at the Oct. 21 special meeting of the Region 9 Board of Education, the board learned in September that a former employee had executed a contract for a new boiler at Joel Barlow High School. The amount of the contract, dated June 29, was $216,884.

Upon learning of this contract in September, Dr. Thomas McMorran, who served as interim superintendent (July 20 to Sept. 20) and Dr. Jason McKinnon, who commenced employment as superintendent on Sept. 20, 2021, brought the matter to the board’s attention. The board had no knowledge of the contract until September.

The board has had long-standing adopted policies regarding the procedures to be followed in connection with school district purchasing. Those policies, with limited exceptions, require competitive bidding for school district contracts.

In reviewing this matter, it is clear that there was no competitive bidding for the boiler contract. While there is an emergency exception to the competitive bidding requirement under Board Policy 3320.1, that policy requires notice to the board within two weeks of such an emergency. The board did not receive notice regarding any emergency regarding the boiler under Board Policy 3320.

In reviewing the contract, the district determined that the contract was enforceable. As a result, the boiler is currently being installed at the high school.

Both the board and the administration are fully committed to ensuring that all school district purchasing is carried out in compliance with the board’s policies regarding purchasing. To that end, in accordance with a request for proposals authorized by the board on Sept. 30, the board on Nov. 16, appointed the firm of Nawrocki Smith to perform a review of financial transactions for the district, with the scope of that review to be finalized between the Board’s Audit Committee and the audit firm.

The board and the administration believe that review is an important step toward ensuring compliance with the board’s policies regarding purchasing.

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