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Every year our school district publishes a brochure describing all the wonderful items that our school taxes and resulting increase pay for to entice voters to vote for the budget. It appears that they leave off many items so perhaps I could describe a few so our taxpayers will know how our tax dollars are wisely spent.

Top of the list has to be bathrooms, no not for the use of students or staff but for the use of outside contractors and vendors. Every construction contract I have seen that our architect has written includes a provision that the contractor has to provide portable bathrooms for use of his workers while the job is in progress. This means that when the contractor gives us his bid to perform the work he includes in his price the cost to rent portable bathrooms which we pay for. The only problem is we never get the bathrooms since I never see them on any of the schools while any construction is going on. Common sense would tell you that we must be getting a change order on each job with a credit for the bathrooms. I never saw any of those either. All I see are payments to the contractor for portable bathrooms we never get and extra payments to the architect since he gets paid a percentage of the costs, so the higher the price the higher his commission. Actually, we never get the bathrooms so maybe that's why they're not in the budget brochure, but we do pay for them. Maybe my fellow board members could enlighten me since they never have a problem rubber stamping any of these contracts.

A contract given out over the summer was for the materials only to redo glass partitions in Sousa School's student bathrooms. The district tried to put on an appearance of saving money by doing the work in-house instead of having an outside contractor do it. This seems obvious since if an outside contractor does it included in the price are costs such as payment and performance bonds, contractor's insurance, contractor's overhead, contractor's profit, public advertisements for bids, etc. The only problem is rather than just buying the materials and having our staff install it, the district gave it out for bids as a construction contract just to supply the material so we end up buying it from a contractor with all of the above costs we're supposed to save still included. And yes, there was a provision in the contract to include a portable bathroom even though the contractor will only be at the site for minutes delivering the materials. I guess you never know when nature calls. My fellow board members will have to enlighten me on this contract as well since they had no problem approving it after I stated the above objections.

Richard Sussman



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