Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

W. Mifflin Pays $10K a Month for Equipment No One Uses

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

W. Mifflin Pays $10K a Month for Equipment No One Uses

Article excerpt

Under the terms of a five-year contract the West Mifflin Area School District holds with Ford Business Machines, it pays nearly $10,000 a month to lease equipment for scanning documents even though the district has no employee who knows how to operate the equipment.

That information was brought to light by school director Phil Shar at the Feb. 9 workshop session and again at Thursday's regular school board meeting. Mr. Shar questioned the contract's origins and the amount of scanning that was being done at the Feb. 9 meeting.

He resumed the conversation at Thursday's session providing details of the contract, which calls for the district to pay $9,822 monthly on a five-year contract that started in April 2009 and runs through March 2014. The total contract cost is $535,190.

Mr. Shar said his research found the contract was awarded by the board in March 2009 after a representative of Ford was permitted to meet with the school board and former superintendent Patrick Risha in an executive session before their regular monthly meeting.

Business manager Dennis Cmar confirmed that the firm was brought into executive session to discuss the contract in March 2009.

Mr. Shar questioned whether it was legal for Ford's presentation to be done in executive session.

"I couldn't believe it was permitted to be done in the back room and not brought to the floor," Mr. Shar said.

District solicitor Gary Matta said he did not attend the meeting and did not know specifically what transpired. But he said the session was legal if the representative from Ford discussed "items of a nature only about his business" and the vote was brought to the public floor. Minutes from the March 2009 meeting posted on the district website indicate the board approved the contract with an 8- 0 vote, with one member absent. …

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