On April 7th, Board of Education member Linda Szynkowicz (R) sent the following letter to fellow board members voicing her concerns over the education budget citing concerns on the lack of information given to members to review prior to the vote. On April 29th, she also sent the below certified letter to Superintendent Dr. Patricia Charles with a list of questions regarding the accounting of various funds, information about which has not been disclosed to board members who are responsible for appropriating funds between line items in the budget.
On Monday, Szynkowicz, who is also currently running for state representative in the 33rd District, appeared on Comcast's cable access show "The Variety Hour" hosted by Middletown Republican Candidate William Wilson. Szynkowicz stated for the record that she regrets having voted to approve the budget; Szynkowicz discussed what she feels is information that has been systematically with held from the board members & lack of transparency & accountability on the part of the school administration overseeing taxpayer supplied education funds. Szynkowicz reiterated her dedication to education and emphasized she wishes more funds went to students and teachers, instead of being wasted. She stated to date, the questions to the superintendent & board below have not been addressed.
As Board of
Education members, the budget is ultimately our responsibility. We take
ownership of the budget and essentially tell the taxpayers that we believe in
the budget we present. It is taken for granted that we are aware of where and
how the taxpayer’s money will be spent. In the past five months since I was
elected by the tax payers to this office, I find the way the budget and how the
monies are being spent – a mystery.
information we receive on a monthly basis consists of transfers and an overall
expenditure of funds. It does not include income from grants and other income
received by the schools or any information on leased rooms, buildings, pools,
etc. A real budget has income and expenditures. I personally have never even
seen a school’s individual budget, yet every month I am asked to transfer money
from one line item to the next.
difficult times, we need to make the tax payer’s money stretch as far as
possible. How can we do this if the actual budget’s (Income and expenses) are
unknowns? Do we as board members know how many students and teachers are in
each school and what part of the budget each one makes up as part of the overall
budget? For safety concerns, in the event of an emergency at any particular
school, do we have any idea how many students, teachers, staff,
paraprofessionals and or visitors are in each school? Do we know the actual
needs of each school?
I know that we
were told back in January 2014, that Woodrow Wilson Middle School is in
desperate need of a new security system which will cost approximately $16,000.
I personally toured the school this past Thursday and saw their security
system. I walked with the principal up and down hallways, seeing staff and the
principal with walkie talkies and personally viewed the antiquated security
monitors. This should be a priority, not
only for the safety of the students, but staff, as well. We talked about the
other needs of the school and he made mention of what he’s had to do with his
budget. Sadly I had to tell him, when he was making reference to certain line
items, that I have never seen his actual budget. That I have no idea how much
money is spent at each school or where the money goes. This is embarrassing as
a board member who is supposed to know where the money goes within the school
system. This has to change.
How can we
know where we can stretch the dollars to get more “bang for our buck” if we
have no idea about the answers to some very basic questions? How would we know
if we had a problem in any one of the schools with their electrical if we
cannot compare the costs for electricity for each school?
We, as BOE members,
should be given a copy of each school’s budget on a monthly basis which would
include expenditures and income. It should include the salaries of the
teachers, paras, staff, etc of each individual school. We should treat each
school as an individual “business” and have all accurate accountings of all the
major assets, including computers, how many and how old.
budget should include the breakdown of each school’s entire budget (again this
is income and expenses).
We need to
see the list of vendors, what we buy from them, for how long and whether or not
the contract went out to bid. Along these same lines, we need to review the bid
process conducted by the BOE. Do we have guide lines similar to the City of
Middletown where anything over $2500 up to $15,000 needs a minimum of three (3)
hard quotes (written on official letterhead by the prospective vendors) and
anything over $15,000 has to go out to a formal bid? For all of the BOE members
that believe the current vendors have given us the “best deal”, through a real
bid process, we will actually be able to see what a “good deal” we have been
getting or if we could be getting a better deal utilizing other vendors.
millions of dollars in grant money, yet we do not know where the money goes
from each one, let alone the name and purpose of each grant. Do we know if we
have gotten all the grant money from all the grants that are available to us?
This is a daunting task and the efforts put forth by those involved in the
grant processes should be acknowledged and appreciated for the monies we
receive, but what are the grants and where does the money go from each one? No
one can be 100% aware of the available grants, so how can the public help to
give information about previously unknown sources of funding, if we, the public
and the BOE members don’t know who gives us what money?
I propose a
listing of all the grants received by Middletown school system to not only be
provided to the BOE members, but be posted on the website for the general
public to see and have the opportunity to add to the list of grant providers.
January meeting regarding the budget and needs of the BOE, it was brought to
our attention that Dattco gave us back $100,000. Where did that money go to?
contract needs to be looked at. We had to transfer $16,000 last month to pay
for the hazardous waste removal at the schools which should have been included
in the original contract.
We, as a
board, need to have all these issues addressed. Again, we, as board members,
have a responsibility to the taxpayers to have the money for Middletown’s
students be used for their needs for learning. We are competing with magnet
schools and are paying out thousands of dollars for the students in Middletown
that have decided to gain their education elsewhere.
We should no
longer rely on the statements, “This is the way it’s always been done.” We need
to be proactive and create a comprehensive accounting of all the dollars
received and spent within the Middletown School system. The first step to
change, is finding out where all the money is going and what monies are coming
in. We need to make sure that the venders are giving us the best deals and this
is done through a bid process and hard quotes for items under $15,000.
I am asking
that we call for a special meeting later this month to have all these issues
and more addressed. Ultimately, if we can find a savings of even 5%, we can
have all the wish list items that have been presented to the board.
any thoughts and ideas presented by the members of the Board of Education, as
well as those of the general public. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Alfred B. Tychsen Administrative Building
Board of Education
Dr. Pat Charles
weeks ago I sent a letter to all the Board of Education members spelling out
what I believed to be the responsibility and need for us, as Board of Education
members, to know the budget – both income and expenses, in order to make sure
that we are doing everything we can to not only have a balanced budget, but to
find cost savings in order to be able to pay for all the wants and needs of the
district. I have included the original letter with this letter.
find it necessary to spell out what I would like from the Superintendent’s
financial office, instead of the special meeting I had requested, since one has
not been set to date.
accounting of all income and expenses for each school on a yearly
and monthly basis. This should include the breakdown of all salaried personnel
within each school and all expenses and income within each school.
complete listing of all grants received, their dollar amounts and where they
are applied in the budget. When they are received is also important.
comprehensive listing of all vendors utilized within the district, what their
services are, their total cost, when they went out to bid and when their
contract(s) expire. I would also like to see copies of all contracts that went
out to bid and were awarded to the vendors.
separate listing of vendors we utilize that did not go out to bid and
what services they provide and the cost of their products/services we purchase.
listing of what products and services are purchased collectively as a district
and what products and services are purchased separately by each school and the
detailed accounting of how much Sodexco has saved the district. It is my
understanding that they have a one year contract and should have a comprehensive
review in order to be renewed.
would like to review the bid process for the Board of Education. Is it the same
as the City’s?
did the $100,000 given back by Dattco last year go? I have also been told it
was more like $500,000. A detailed accounting would be appreciated, with an
accurate accounting of exactly how much was “given back”.
detailed report on Dattco’s billing practices, as mentioned in the April Budget
Committee meeting, being “messed up.”
jobs being subplanted in the Alliance grant application for 2014-2015 and which
positions are they?
is the dollar amount being proposed to be pushed into the next fiscal year as
allowed by the State? (1%) and what is the money going to be put towards? and
of a month ago, there was $934,000 still not received by the State of CT from
the Alliance grant. What has been received and where is it going to?
are a few of the questions, I would like addressed, as soon as possible. As
Board of Education members, we need to know where all the money is being spent,
since we are ultimately responsible for the budget.
you for your time and consideration.
of Education Member
can you say cray cray???ReplyDelete
Um no, the only crazy people are the other board members turning a blind eye and the people accepting the fact there is no accountability. Well done Linda!ReplyDelete
Seriously this is the best the republicans could put up for state rep? The party should have read and edited this letter. She comes across very unknowlegeable. I'm no rocket scientist but even I know the Alliance money will go for the expenses in the grant budget and the 10,000 dattco give back is likely to be a credit on a future invoice. That is the way ANY business works Linda.ReplyDelete
We have the board of education that goes unchecked by those we have elected to do just that. She is looking out for our tax dollars unlike others who just let the administration do what they want without any oversight.ReplyDelete
I would like to see a line item budget like the City has online, but instead we get one line with just a dollar amount.ReplyDelete
Linda Loo(ney): the super doesn't have a financial staff capable of giving you what you ask for. They can't even issue accurate paychecks. Why don't you ask ed "blue house" McKeon who is in charge of the budget committee? Or not.....be may not want the world to know just how resource rich mcdonough school is. Which gee what a coincidence, is where his kids go to school.ReplyDelete
This lady approved a new principal at Woodrow Wilson Middle School without any information, I find it hard to believe she is sincere about this. The new principal had a settlement agreement with the insurance company agreeing that he would never come back after his first employment with the schools. Why doesn't she ask for that? Maybe she also found it convenient to overlook the guy's romantic relationship with a certain assistant superintendent.ReplyDelete
I see the classy trolls are out name calling once again. The only thing liberals are consistent with when they disagree with others on the issues.ReplyDelete
The BOE and those who work on Hunting Hill Ave. have taxpayers to answer to for their decisions or lack there of.
I am Bill Wilson and I don't hide behind anonymous unlike you.
I think her request is responsible. If it isn't... I want to hear the reason for it.ReplyDelete
She asked for the info almost 2 months ago and hasn't received it. Pretty safe bet she's being ignored and not getting it.ReplyDelete