Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Do you know that Chesterfield County is using corrupt, inaccurate numbers for its budget talks?

Date: April 14, 2015 at 3:34:18 AM EDT


1.  The e-mails in response to my question to the school division last week regarding the discrepancies between their "CCPS adopted Budget for FY2015" and the "Appropriations Resolution" passed by the Board of Supervisors last year are copied below this e-mail.  The relevant portion of their response has been inserted here for convenience.

       "We used a draft of the county resolution.  The county then updated that draft to reflect the correct number;  we did not, however, update our document.  We are in the process of updating the document and it will be posted tomorrow with copies being sent to the public libraries."

2.  So, CCPS set no controls and performed no verification or proofreading to be sure that they accessed the Appropriations Resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors instead of a draft.  We are two and a half months away from the end of the fiscal year that budget governed, and "grandma" is the only one who noticed that not only is the narrative copied from the draft appropriations resolution wrong, the numbers for the appropriation totals and categories are wrong as well.  The "Transfer to and/or Assignment for School Capital Projects" is $1.2M higher in the CCPS adopted budget than the amount appropriated by the BoS, for example.

3. Take a look at page 107 of the CCPS Adopted Budget and the figures displayed there for the broad categories of funds for FY 2015.  They are yet another set of numbers that do not match either the numbers on page 11 of the CCPS Adopted Budget or the numbers in the Appropriations Resolution. I understand that they left off a couple of the categories for FY 2015 on that page (food service, grounds maintenance and transfer for school capital projects), but most of the other appropriation categories do not match either.  Perhaps CCPS should be asked to footnote the differences or somehow explain to the reader why those differences exist.

4.  I cannot understand how the BoS can proceed to vote on a real estate tax rate and a budget on Wednesday, April 15th, to provide millions of extra dollars to the school division when there are unanswered questions raised by the budget documents that are corrupted by these inaccuracies, as well as questions about why this year's five- year plan shows so much more money to be provided the school division than the "approved" five-year plan included in last year's budget.  The BoS has not clearly shown a "need" to raise the taxes by increasing the 94-cent levy to 96 cents.

5.  How do you know what the effect of using the wrong budget figures has been on other school division accounting issues?  If the numbers in the printed, adopted FY 15 budget are not the numbers used to populate the accounts that control the spending, why not?  How does CCPS justify not ensuring that they are using the legally appropriated amount of funds?  I consider this to be a serious failure, especially in light of other problems plaguing CCPS, such as--

     a.  all the audit findings with respect to construction management (some of the same findings appear in three audits since 2008 (actual date of audit)),  school transportation and payroll, among others;

     b.  failure to use proper processes and perform adequate analysis in the bus camera issue;

     c.  a complete fiasco surrounding the outsourcing of the custodial services, including the failure to use past performance in the evaluation factors for selecting the successful contractor (contact me if you need more information); 

     d.  the security risk associated with releasing improperly drafted solicitations and improperly marked school floor plans for the two solicitations for custodial services (pilot and current); 

     e.  failure to establish any quality control reporting procedures for use by the eight schools with outsourced custodial services;

     f.  granting of special access to GCA Services prior to soliciting offers;

     g.  paying GCA Services for more than $8800 of work not done on a fixed price contract (documentation available) and not deducting anything when work was not done;

     h.  questionable evaluation procedures that seem to result in Moseley Architects and BCWH getting most of the A/E services contracts (per August 2011 audit  Moseley was awarded 40% and BCWH 32% of the dollars and the two firms combined received 50% of the projects from FY 09 - date of audit in August 2011).  These same two firms have received four of five A/E services contracts funded by the 2013 bond referendum.  Earlier bond referenda have resulted in these same two firms receiving most of the A/E services contracts also.

     i.  nepotism which may have contributed to CCPS trying to charge me more than $1100 to get information on the failure of the wastewater treatment plant at Matoaca High School on August 1, 2013 that was not repaired until February 2015 and has cost approximately $750,000; (My challenges to charges resulted in zero payments.)

     j.  the climate of fear that exists among the staff of CCPS with respect to reporting improper actions of other staff members;

     k.  the failure to respond to allegations of falsification of personnel records of the secretary fired at Ettrick Elementary discovered after her appeal had been denied, and the failure to properly address many other problems with the principal at that school which has been in the State Improvement Program and has had oversight by the Virginia Department of Education;

     l.  the failure to produce justifications for the more than 170 vehicles that were being driven home daily (commuting vehicles) and that were identified as a problem last year;

    m. the maintenance of two separate specialty centers (International Baccalaureate) at Meadowbrook and Midlothian which are inefficient in use of teacher resources and require payment of double the fees of a single center; (The diversity statistics at these two centers should raise serious questions about the reason for these separate, inefficient facilities)

     n.  the use of differing yardsticks at some of the high schools to hide the degree of overcrowding for several years in the presence of vacant seats at nearby schools; (Look at the actual numbers for Matoaca High and Thomas Dale High and ask why that inequity has been allowed to exist; I have asked orally and in writing and have received no answer.)

     o.  the millions of dollars lost as reported in the audits because Construction Management will not set up a procedure to avoid paying sales tax;

     p.  the failure to heed the warning of the MGT of America Efficiency Review of March 16, 2010 that with respect to the supplemental retirement program, "This unfunded liability represents a significant challenge to the financial status of CCPS and options for managing this significant long-term obligation should be developed"; (Referring to the "baby boomers" reaching retirement age in the next few years, the report stated, "The increased number of participants will dramatically increase the cost of this program."  Action to close the program to new employees as of July 1, 2013 will not effectively address the identified problem.)

     q.  the general failure to understand the importance of discipline in dating documents, identifying contact persons for documents, project management, documenting spending decisions, explaining assignment of scores in evaluation matrices, using appropriate evaluation factors in selecting contractors for negotiated contracts, and the use of basic business processes; 

     r.  the continuing use of false statistics such as the 99.3% efficiency cited despite repeated, public notices that no such statistic was cited in the MGT of America Efficiency Review--not audit;
     s. the full court press being used on the media outlets in our area to stifle the reporting of the school division's mishaps, failures and poor performance;  (Just last week I received an e-mail from yet another local media outlet sharing that Tim Bullis had asked that if I gave that outlet anything that they were considering writing about, the editor should let Mr. Bullis see what was provided first.) 

     t.  the proliferation of programs that have not been justified and the failure to establish adequate performance measures to show that programs should have continued funding;   (This was a finding of a Curriculum Audit a few years ago and nothing much seems to have changed.)

    u.  the unjustified use of expensive outside speakers and professional development programs that teachers have decried for years and the failure to recognize the experts within the ranks of CCPS that could provide such opportunities for a much lower cost with greater acceptance;

    v.  the continued rental of venues such as the University of Richmond, even with the opening of the CTC @ Hull;

    w.  the excessive compensation of employees assigned to some positions as reported a few years ago and the continued granting of raises to those in grades 39 and above based on questionable justifications and despite the notable failures of many of those in this group to perform at acceptable levels;

    x.  the failure to provide any procurement training to Construction Management personnel and others who, together, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little to no understanding of proper procurement and contract administration procedures;

    y.  the failure to formally document "lessons learned" from each major A/E and construction project and use them in subsequent procurements; and

    z.  the apparent failure to establish management indicators and reports that regularly allow comprehensive assessment of the school division's performance and the failure to properly support many of the recommendations and provide essential information to the Board; (One example:  The list of those seeking approval of their participation in the SRP each year does not even contain the cost of the benefit for those people on the list, so the School Board does not even know the impact of their approval on the budget and the unfunded liability.)

6.  There are more issues, but I have given you an idea of the concerns.  As a taxpayer, I am outraged at the overwhelming evidence of the lack of competence of the school division in almost every area--construction management, budgeting, personnel, Community Relations--you name it and they have fouled it up.  You can be sure the rest of the community will be upset as well at pouring more money into giving raises and other funding to the school division with no consequences for such failures as those identified in this e-mail and the references provided. 

7.  Once again, no one has explained why the five-year plan shows increased revenues from last year to this year.  Neither has anyone combed through the budget for savings.  CCPS claims in their budget document to be using zero based budgeting.  I am not sure they understand what it is.  

8.  While teachers constantly lament many of the "professional development" activities, the proposed budget for FY 2016 shows one added position to HR - Professional Dev at $77,395 to bring the total up to 7 FTEs.  I am sure the teachers could find a better use for that money.

9.  Other items of interest in the FY 2016 proposed budget for schools: 

     a.  Student Services has added one FTE at $73,997 to bring their total to 62.

     b.  School Improvement has 8 FTEs with an average salary of $75,676.

     c.   Communities in Schools shows an addition of 7 FTEs at a cost of $371,642 with a salaries and wages supplement of $12,500 which I suspect is for a car allowance.  Total budget for this item shows zero (0) in FY 2015 and $518,561 in FY 16.

     d.  Four FTEs in the Superintendent's office are costing us $877,230 ($18,568 more than last year including a $5,000 increase for "Other Salaries").

     e.  Accounts 950 and 951 for Community Relations show a total of $1,639,717 for FY 16.   How is that amount of money justified for people who are spending at least some of their time contacting the media outlets in the area to try to shut down the first amendment rights of certain citizens--namely Rodney and me?

10.  I do not have the time tonight to continue to list reasons why it is unconscionable to tax all the real estate owners to give as much money to this school division as the BoS is proposing to do.  We citizens are questioning how the BoS has shown the "need" for the increased appropriations for the school division.  No doubt they want the money, but the "need" for it when they are operating without controls as documented above is certainly debatable.  At what point will there be any accountability?  CCPS simply did not produce a budget that matches the appropriations provided by the BoS last year.

11.  We are weary of the lies, obfuscations, misrepresentations and lack of accountability for what our local government is doing with our money.  By the way, we have not even gotten around to discussing the transfer of Deputy Circuit Court clerks back and forth contrary to the provisions of the Chesterfield County Charter and the waste of money there, including the return to a manual system that triggered all kinds of bad results that, for the most part, have been unreported to the citizens.

12.  The bottom line is that you need to delay the vote on the tax rate and the budget for two weeks so we can find out what CCPS has really done with their money this year and find out why the five-year plan is growing despite your "agreement" which was not reduced to writing in a memorandum.  If you decide to raise taxes, at least do what you obligated yourself to do last year on the record, and "give back the penny."  Also, we are calling upon you to be clear and unequivocal in making your motions.  The reduced tax levy is 94 cents.  If you "give back the penny," you are really increasing our taxes and you need to make that clear in your conversations and your motions this year. 

13. It is a tough job, but you volunteered for it.  Thank you for your service, and remember that "Consumer Survey Finds Average Family Didn't Recover Wealth Lost From 2007-2010."  See http://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-gap-between-rich-poor-americans-widened-during-recovery-1409853628.  In addition, the top percentile of Americans also increased their wealth share since 2010, corresponding to a loss in wealth for the bottom 90 percent of Americans, according to the Fed data.  See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/4/incomes-fell-most-families-past-three-years-while-/.


Brenda Stewart

From: "Deborah Salyer" <deborah_salyer@ccpsnet.net>
To: "Brenda Stewart" <bl-stewart@comcast.net>
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 3:44:15 PM
Subject: Re: Follow up to your question


I have some more information for you regarding this matter.

We used a draft of the county resolution.  The county then updated that draft to reflect the correct number;  we did not, however, update our document.  We are in the process of updating the document and it will be posted tomorrow with copies being sent to the public libraries.  

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.  


On Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM, <bl-stewart@comcast.net> wrote:

Thanks, Deborah.  Enjoy your weekend!


From: "Deborah Salyer" <deborah_salyer@ccpsnet.net>
To: "Brenda Stewart" <bl-stewart@comcast.net>
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 4:56:08 PM
Subject: Follow up to your question


I know that you talked to Carol, but I wanted to respond to your question from late yesterday afternoon regarding the FY 2015 Appropriations Resolution and the total appropriations being different from what is on the county's website.  To the best of my knowledge, no changes or corrections have been done.  


Deborah H. Salyer
Deputy Clerk to the School Board


1 comment:

  1. Welcome to Chesterfield County, a First Choice Community.

    First Choice in what exactly?


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