Dr. Nyland Issues a Heartfelt "Whoops" over Gates Preschool Grant
Despite Cashel Toner's "this is how it's done," actually NO, this is not how grant agreements over $250K are done in SPS. Why anyone on the Board took her word for it is beyond me.
From the Superintendent's Friday Memo:
From the Superintendent's Friday Memo:
At the board meeting on Wednesday you approved the $750,000 Gates grant for a Gatzert pre-school. Thank you, that will allow us to move forward on providing much needed and appreciated services for high need students at Gatzert.
Following the board meeting, you noted that the support materials for that agenda item included a copy of the contract between the Gates Foundation and the District. It was noted that I, as superintendent, had signed the grant in September which is much earlier than approved by the board.
In following up, I have confirmed that we did in fact receive the money from the Gates Foundation in October however, those funds were held and would not have been spent until Board approval was obtained.
My early signature was obviously not appropriate policy or practice. I apologize. What I know now, but did not know then, is that we have a routing form for all contracts which require multiple signatures by different departments – ending with the superintendent. That did not occur in this case. We also have a protocol for recognizing and correcting errors such as these. General Counsel for the District will make you aware of those steps. I certainly do acknowledge this mistake and now know the proper steps for approving contracts.
Dr. Larry Nyland, SuperintendentKey Points from the Legal Department:
1. There are two relevant Board policies. Policy 6114 provides that grants are subject to the rules applicable to contracts, and reference Policy 6220. That policy provides that contracts (and thus grants) over $250,000 require Board approval. In speaking to the Superintendent early today on this matter, it was apparent that he had been uncertain on the process for approval of grants, but now understands how these policies apply.
Editorial comment: how did that unsigned form get to him? Why wasn't he briefed if this was one of his earliest grant signatures?
2. It appears that after the grant terms were settled, the unsigned form was sent directly to the Superintendent for signature by the Gates foundation, bypassing staff. He simply signed it and returned it. As noted by Dr. Nyland below, he was not aware at that time of our standard signoff process.
How clever of the Gates Foundation to send the agreement DIRECTLY to the Superintendent. He didn't know the procedure, didn't check the policy and just signed and RETURNED it to them.
3. The associated Superintendent Procedure SP 6220.A provides that unauthorized signings such as this must be followed up with a form that requires the signer and their supervisor to acknowledge the mistake occurred and that appropriate corrective action has been put in place to
prevent a recurrence. The focus is on education and corrective action. I believe the email below fulfills the intent of that procedure.
Key points from Ken Gotsch, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Finance:
1. Larry Nyland had just recently started his interim superintendent position with the district.
He had NO business signing something that big without asking. A huge RED flag if he wants to keep this job.
2. The grant agreement was signed by Dr. Nyland on September 26th, 2014.
3. On or about October 3 or 6 (weekend in between), Grants Administration received a check from the Gates Foundation in the amount of $250,000, unaware of a signed grant agreement. 4 Grants Administration deposited the check for $250k in a holding account (1M97) until such time as the grant was approved (or not) by the Board.
4. At this point, Grants Administration also received an unsigned copy of the Gates Foundation grant agreement, for which grants staff began an approval routing form verifying that Kevin Corrigan reviewed the draft grant agreement (on 10/6) and legal reviewed (Ronald Boy on 10/7).
I'm confused here because I thought all grants, especially Gates grants, were routed thru the Alliance for Education.
5. At this point, Grants Administration stopped the grant routing process and have been holding the routing form until the 11/19/2014 Board Action.
6. Normal procedure would have Grants Administration routing the Gates Pre-K grant to completion now.
7. It does not appear that proper protocols were followed to obtain the Interim Superintendent's
8. It is suggested that routing and approval protocols be sent to all departments and schools to provide clarity to this process.
9. As this pertains to all contracts, agreements, grants received, etc. I believe this should come out from the Communications Office.
10. Note. No one has access to use or approval to use these funds to this moment in time.
So this is interesting because Ms. Toner (wrongly) said the funds to renovate the classroom/bathroom/playground at Bailey Gatzert came from "BEX III" (when she meant BTA III). Okay, so how come this job never came up at any committee meeting? I never saw or heard one word about it. I'll have to ask.
11. The first Kevin Corrigan saw the signed Gates grant copy was at the 11/19/2014 board meeting as the attachment to the Pre-K Gates Grant BAR.
12. Kevin Corrigan is not sure how this came to be signed. Proper procedure would
call for the full routing protocol to be followed but it was not. We typically don't get the check
until the grant agreement is signed after board approval.
As to that last statement, no kidding.
End of district statement
Not good and sorry, no "move on, nothing to see here."
It is astonishing how dumb senior staff thinks everyone outside of JSCEE really is. That the Superintendent is playing along is yet another sign that he is co-opted. (Sorry, there are truly no dumb people at the top and they know what they are doing.)