August 22, 2013The Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education granted approval Monday for administration to develop a request for proposal seeking further assistance from a third party consultant regarding a more systematic outline of the district's technology structure and bond plans.
A final recommendation report is expected no later than Nov. 1, allowing ample time for placement on the February ballot.
The report, board secretary Lois Valente said, shall include a very detailed and specific architectural technology plan, evaluation of total cost of ownership, and identifiable options for streamlining and efficiencies from the original plan of 10 years, $48 million.
"I'm looking for somebody to come in at a higher level to look at this systemically, to evaluate the total cost of ownership, to lay it out and also to make recommendations or suggestions on options," said Valente.
Much of the technology bond discussion in recent meetings had been about ensuring due diligence in the planning process. And, in doing so, assuring the community that administration, the technology steering committee, and board as a whole had fully researched and analyzed the issue.
The board majority felt the RFP and resulting recommendation would accomplish just that.
"I'm comfortable with this. I think we're heading in the right direction," said treasurer Judy Gafa, who suggested in prior meetings the district seek input from an unbiased third party.
"I think we're doing the right thing for the community to reassure them that, yes, we've done our due diligence and, yes, this is a good plan. And it's not just rubber-stamping what's already been done."
Monday's approval all but ends any hope of a technology bond making the November ballot.
The proposal passed 5-2, with vice president Dan Roeske and trustee Brian Summerfield dissenting. Both wanted instead to allow the voters a chance to decide the bond's fate in November, not February.
"In July, I was convinced then that the bond language was the correct language to bring to the voters to let them decide," Roeske said of the July vote that ended in a 3-3 tie, thus failing from lack of majority.
"I voted for the language on July 29, and I would've hoped that the board would've given the chance to the voters to make a decision on how they want to invest in our schools," he continued. "I think we're spinning our wheels and we're losing some time. I'm disappointed that we're at this point."
"There's going to be a lot of questions about (the third party recommendation) because (administration) didn't receive any directive from the people (the technology steering committee) that are questioning the plans that have already been proposed, and we're going to go around in a circle here, I'm afraid," Summerfield said.