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  • Wednesday, May 14, 2008

     

    As thousands march to protest Educational Budget Cuts…Taxpayers of Los Angeles Unified learn what OUSD Taxpayers have long known: Consultants=Waste

    Metro Views _____________:GoCo:
    Giving Voice to the Greater Orange Communities
    Viewpoints from the Greater Orange Communities

    As thousands march to protest Educational Budget Cuts…Taxpayers of Los Angeles Unified learn what OUSD Taxpayers have long known:
    Consultants=Waste


    An Orange Net News Editorial


    The Los Angeles Daily News made a big splash this week with their investigative report on the multi-millions of educational dollars Los Angeles Unified has dumped into the educational “consultant” business. In the article titled Millions spent on LAUSD consultant deals, the taxpayers of LAUSD found out what the Greater Orange Community Organization has been reporting to local taxpayers of the Greater Orange Communities for years- the waste of millions of tax dollars- specifically tax dollars earmarked for education of our children- on the big-money edu-buisness consultants. This egregious practice is even more outrageous in light of the massive proposed cuts to education across the state. LA Unified is now being scrutinized for $175 million dollars in wasted educational tax funds on overpriced consultant contracts.

    The investigative report cites the following wasteful spending:

    • The Superintendent's Office has $4.7 million in outstanding consulting contracts, including a 14-month, $74,000 contract to provide monthly support for computer-related duties for the superintendent. The deal comes in addition to the LAUSD's own in-house Information Technology Division staff that provides services district wide.
    • The district also has an in-house communications department, as well as consultants, but also spent $30,000 on an 11-month contract for "media interview and presentation training to the superintendent, members of senior staff and cabinet," according to a review of the contracts.
    • Meanwhile, in addition to an internal ethics program, the district has spent $194,030 for a consultant to provide yearlong "intensive training for athletic coaches and intramural coordinators in ethical practices and decision-making."
    The report quotes LA Unified Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines who ordered a report on the district’s consultants as saying:

    "I'm not going to be foolish. We do need some consultants," he said. "But running out and getting consultants for something is a way of life in this district."

    Well Mr. Cortines, we in Orange Unified know that LA Unified is far from alone.

    Recently elected LAUSD School Trustee Tamar Glatzan states:

    “The dollar amount is staggering. I have no doubt there are tens of millions of dollars for contracts for things that are less important than the classroom, our kids and our teachers."

    The new Board member goes on to give us insight into what appears to be wrong in the system (something OUSD taxpayers are vary familiar with) a school board that is willing to rubber stamp the school administrations out-of control spending in the Consent Agenda.

    "At the first couple of board meetings, we were given all these contracts to rubber-stamp and they were executed 1 1/2 years ago,"

    That trustee after just 10 months has learned something that most of our current OUSD Trustees have yet to learn…rubber stamping has it’s costs. Davis Tokofsky, a former LAUSD Trustee put it simply:

    "(The district) can't go before the employees, parents and students after the governor's May revise (of the budget) and ask for dramatic cuts in the classroom and personnel, when the numbers of zeros in these contracts are beyond anything I've seen in 25 years"

    While Orange Unified Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley under recent questioning about consultants by OUSD’s fiscal conservative trustee Rick Ledesma tried to pull the latest excuse of “categorical funds”, the truth is that these are taxpayer provided educational funds, the category they are wasted in does not matter.

    The recent example of OUSD Assistant Superintendent Ed Kissee’s request for $6,500 in educational tax funds to pay an educational consultant for one speech was rubber-stamped by the OUSD Board. That $6,500 was speech given last week and was reportedly just 50 minutes long and reportedly was seen by many in attendance as “less than inspiring”. Yet OUSD tax-payers coughed up $6,500 for the speech as the OUSD Board cuts positions, raises lunch fees, transportation fees and prepares to shed class size reductions. Yes, $6,500 will not fix all the cuts, but the millions wasted over the last eight years by the past two OUSD Administrations on Focus on Results and the controversial Daggett Consultants sure would be helpful to have in the bank right about now for this current budget crisis.

    So as thousands of protesters march in Santa Ana on this day, lets revisit the words of the current OUSD Board President Wes Poutsma when he was voting to spend hundreds of thousands of educational tax funds on the contract of the now defunct and forgotten OUSD Focus on Results program on September 22, 2004:

    “We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere.”


    TO see the Los Angles Daily News CLICK ON:
    LA DAILY NEWS

    Orange Net News Editorial

    Metro VIEWS
    is an open forum to express viewpoints on local Greater Orange issues.
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