At least one TUSD Governing Board member is calling for an investigation by the Attorney Generals’ office into the recent $92,500 strategic planning contract awarded to The Center for Reform of School Systems. The move is in response to complaints Michael Hicks has received from the community.
Hicks is also calling for the Board to revisit a recent decision to increase the ceiling for awarding contracts.
If you believe in coincidences or that sometimes things just work out the way you hoped they would, you need to hang around TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez. TUSD Governing Board raised the ceiling for awarding contracts without a public bid process from $50,000 to $100,000, at Superintendent H.T. Sanchez’s request.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, three invitations to bid were sent out just three days after the Board meeting. They were sent to two companies in San Francisco and The Center for Reform of School Systems. Incredibly, only The Center for Reform of School Systems responded to the bid request. Even more incredible – the bid was just $7,500 under the $100,000 ceiling.
Fortunately for H. T., he should be very comfortable with the winner of the contract. Cathy Mincberg, who is his good friend and job reference for the TUSD superintendent spot, is the head of The Center for Reform of School Systems. Mincberg worked with Sanchez in Texas on strategic planning.
The district Sanchez left his new job at TUSD received a dismal grade from the state of Texas shortly after Sanchez’s departure.
It is a small world after all. Three of the five “experts” selected by The Center for Reform of School Systems, to lead the districts five-year strategic planning initiative set to kick off a Feb. 25 conference, have close ties to Superintendent Sanchez, according to the Star report.
The other two people (of the three) leading the conference have worked with Sanchez on planning and training efforts in Texas, reports the Star. The group will supposedly lead discussions with carefully selected participants.
TUSD Governing Board member Mark Stegeman told the Star that he would have preferred to see a consulting contract like this brought before the board. “I think this raises the potential appearance of a conflict of interest. A contract of that nature should’ve gone through the board,” Stegeman said, according to the Star.
The plaintiffs in the District’s desegregation case are considering filing a complaint with the Special Master appointed by federal Judge Bury. According to sources, Sanchez is proposing to use desegregation funds for capital improvements, which is not currently allowed. Sanchez wanted to use the desegregation funds intended to improve student performance to offer transforming closed schools into daycare centers for employees. The union backed proposal would offer below market childcare services to district employees as a benefit of working under the desegregation order.
For years, the plaintiffs have fought for those funds to be used to hire highly skilled teachers to work in underserved schools as well as tutoring and mentoring services. They have never been completely successful in making that a reality as the District has always viewed the desegregation monies as a slush fund for pet projects.