Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Martin Takes Issue with Software Woes Schrenko Defends Handling of Problem

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Martin Takes Issue with Software Woes Schrenko Defends Handling of Problem

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Contract problems that one state Board of Education

member called a major fiasco are providing ammunition to

opponents trying to stall School Superintendent Linda Schrenko's

bid for reelection.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker has already been asked to

investigate two contracts, one that went to a company that

employed a key Schrenko ally and another that cost the state $3

million before the Board of Education pulled out of the deal.

Now, her fall opponent, former Atlanta School Board President

Joe Martin, is charging that the Republican incumbent tried to

hide problems with computer software until after the November

election, and that the state is about to cut $50 million from

local school programs to pay for a computer contract to fix

Department of Education foul-ups.

"Where is the $50 million going to come from? There is only one

place, and that's local systems," Martin said during a Capitol

news conference yesterday.

"This is a train out of control. The conductor of the train is

Linda Schrenko," he said.

Schrenko's campaign responded by accusing Martin, a Democrat,

of slinging mud and having a tenure on the Atlanta School Board

that was fraught with "embarrassing failures," including the use

of bond-like school improvement certificates never approved by

voters.

Schrenko supporters note the computer problems were brought to

light by her department.

And the superintendent said no local funds will go into fixing

the problem.

"We cannot take any local funds away from them," Schrenko said.

"We can only redirect state [department] funding."

Legislative leaders are expected to discuss a request for money

to fix the problems next week. If money is redirected from one

part of the Department of Education to fix computers, it may be

refunded during the 1999 General Assembly session, when

lawmakers consider their midyear budget. …

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