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School Board has no questions about $30M in spending


The School Board at its Aug. 8 meeting preapproved $30 million in spending this next fiscal year without any detailed description of what the money will be used for, abdicating oversight of purchase of goods and services from 34 “recurring vendors” to district staff.

Even though the amount is nearly 11 percent of the School District’s approximately $280 million budget, it was presented to the School Board as a rubber-stamp agenda item, not requiring discussion.

Last year the School Board preapproved $37 million in recurring-vendor purchases in a similar manner.

Only School Board Member Laura Zorc commented on the multimillion-dollar item and then voted no.

The expenditure was approved 4-1, with all other board members going along with the staff request.

“I am not comfortable giving spending authority over for Regions Bank and EE&G,” Zorc said.

Regions Bank is the vendor for the district’s $7 million credit card, which had a balance of $6.8 million as of June 12, according to the School District’s  recurring-vendor report.

Last December, Vero Beach 32963 reported on hotel stays purchased by various district staff that violated the credit card procurement code.

No one was disciplined for the breaches but they showed how a lack of board oversight can lead to spending abuses.

In November, Vero Beach 32963 reported the district paid mold remediation company EE&G $500,000, exceeding the board’s preapproved spending cap of $200,000. District staff never reported the over-expenditure to the board and there were no consequences.

Later in the Aug. 8 meeting, School Board Chairperson Charles Searcy inadvertently exposed the consequences of abdicating fiscal oversight.

Searcy asked staff how much the school district paid for workman’s compensation and was told, “We’re paying 60 percent more for workman’s compensation than we should.”

South Central Education Risk Management Program, which provides and administers the district’s workman’s compensation insurance, is a recurring vendor that received $2.4 million from the district last year, free from board oversight.

Searcy was unaware SCERMP was among the vendors that will be paid from the $30 million preapproved in this year’s budget.

When it was pointed out, he shrugged it off. “What would you have us do?” he asked.