What are the lessons to be learned from the audit that the Lyons-Brookfield School District Board of Trustees commissioned back in 2013 regarding a pair of construction projects at George Washington Middle School and Edison Elementary School?
The heck if we know.
District 103 officials don’t seem particularly worried about it. They spent $65,000 for the audit, which took a year to complete and found some troubling behavior.
Not only did the district apparently not bid out several aspects of the GWMS project, it appears they didn’t even keep records of some work that was informally parceled out as construction progressed.
More troubling is what happened at Edison School, where a $35,000 roofing job ballooned into a $161,000 project, all of it unbid and parceled out piecemeal to a favored vendor.
The audit duly notes that the district should have hired an architect to perform of scope of work to find out exactly what officials were up against at Edison School. It turned out that it wasn’t the simple patch job they anticipated, but a more serious problem requiring more work.
The auditor also states that the entire project should have been bid out because the $161,000 price tag was well above the $50,000 cost that is supposed to trigger competitive bidding.
Of course, the trouble with that statement is that $50,000 isn’t the amount that triggers competitive bidding — it’s $25,000, a figure memorialized in official board policy, which can easily be found online. Why the auditor didn’t catch that is itself puzzling.
What it means is that the district actively violated its own purchasing policy by handing a no-bid contract to a favored vendor. Even at $35,000, bidding should have been automatic, or at least the project should have come to the board, which could have chosen, publicly, to waive competitive bidding.
The district’s response to the audit? They say they are now going to follow the policies that were in place at the time the questionable practices took place. Was any one disciplined for their actions? Officially, the district doesn’t comment on personnel issues, but it doesn’t look like it.
Will the district follow through on its pledge to follow its own policies in the future? We guess time will tell.