The panel that serves as a construction watchdog for Cleveland schools says the district routinely skips basic steps in awarding millions of dollars in "summer work" projects.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that that the Bond Accountability Commission concluded that the school system could save money if it followed its own established bid procedures.
"State law and Board of Education policy generally require competitive bidding or multiple price quotes before contracts are awarded,' the Commission says, "but in the Cleveland district’s repair/improvement program, exceptions are the rule, thanks in large part to the Board of Educaiton’s annual 'urgent necessity' resolutions."
The commission says that some of the bids in question could have been considered emergencies, but many of them were for "repairs and improvements that have been planned for months or even years, leaving plenty of time for bids or quotes."
Out of $11.5 million in work in 2013 and 2014, the district did not obtain bids or quotes on more than one third of the jobs that normally require them. It also skipped bids on a half-million dollars worth of technology purchases and repairs that probably required bids.
The most extreme example of a longstanding "urgent" problem is work on the roof of John F. Kennedy High School. The project appeared on the "urgent" list two years ago, then again last summer and is on the list yet again.
The panel recommends that the district use the "urgent necessity" exemption "only in emergencies and unforeseen cases requiring immediate attention."