Monday, March 10, 2008

Let's Hear From Dr. Armand Fusco

In 2006, BOE Member Julie Turk's suggestion to allow Dr. Armand Fusco an opportunity to talk to the Board was flatly ignored. Now is the perfect time to hear from this published expert about accountability and transparancy. "Too many boards have not accepted their sacred covenant -- an implied legal, ethical, and moral contract -- to guard the public purse while providing quality educational services."

Here are his credentials: teacher; superintendent of schools in Hadley, Massachusetts; postdoctoral fellowship with the Boston Labor Management Center; superintendent of schools in Branford, Connecticut; professor of education and director of teacher intern programs at the University of Bridgeport; author of many professional works, including the book School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust; degree in education from the Central Connecticut State Teachers College; professional diploma from the University of Connecticut; Master of Arts from Columbia University; doctorate from the University of Massachusetts; founder of the Parkside School and Academy for special-education students and co-founder
of the Springfield Preparatory School. He resides in Guilford, Connecticut, with Constance, his wife of 53 years. They have four children and fourteen grandchildren.

One of his articles may be downloaded at the bottom of this page: and here are some of the very poignant questions he addresses:

Is there a comprehensive list of school assets and an independent system in place to regularly document the existence of each asset? Failure to have a list of monitored assets is an indication that the school district does not believe it is important to manage school resources responsibly.

How are grants being managed in the school district? Who is responsible for monitoring the grants for proper implementation? How is the monitoring actually done?

How are student activity funds and other cash collections monitored? Who monitors such funds? Are income and disbursements verified for accuracy, and proper usage? Are bank statements reviewed on a monthly basis? Who conducts the review?

Which contracts (construction, insurance, consultants, etc.) have been awarded without competitive bids? What process was used to award such contracts? Who received such contracts? What school official was given the responsibility to oversee the proper completion or implementation of each contract? Was any form of nepotism or favoritism involved? Were board policies followed?

Here's an interesting quote: "School boards and administrators usually claim that 75 to 80 percent of their budget represents 'fixed costs.' Taxpayers should never accept such a statement, because this is the biggest deceit of all. Such a statement assumes that every school employee is essential, that no consolidations can take place, all programs and services are efficient and effective, all resources are managed with quality guidelines, and every operation is managed with utmost efficiency. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to any organization supported by taxpayer dollars -- and this is especially true of schools.

If the BOE has nothing to hide and since intelligent people should always be willing to learn from experts, why not ask him to come in?

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