The following is a press release from Dr. Marguerite Rizzi, the Superintendent of the Stoughton Public Schools:
[Friday morning, March 23] the Stoughton Fire Department conducted a fire drill at Stoughton High School, and fire alarms in parts of the building did not sound. All students and staff were removed from the building safely, and in an orderly manner. There was no fire.
The fire alarm service company, EDI is one whose bills the Town Auditor [Bill Rowe] is refusing to pay because he disagrees with the choice of state publication in which the original bid was advertised. As a result, EDI is not being paid under their existing contract. To their credit, and our great relief, the people at EDI agreed to come to fix the alarm because it was an emergency, and said they would “deal with the money issues later.”
The school department had legitimate concerns that they might not come, because their bills have been refused. Other firms in this situation have informed the School Department personnel that they will never do business with us again. This situation has left the schools with no reliable relationship with a company to fix this alarm system. The result of this could have been the closing, today, and potentially for many days, of the high school building because the alarm system is not functioning. We are very lucky that EDI chose to work with us, but this is a harrowing and irresponsible way for the Municipal government to force us to do business.
Mr. Rowe has informed us that if the bill is going to be more than $10,000 we must wait for a waiver to be approved before we do any repair. It is not his role to determine if the school can or cannot have a functioning fire alarm. It must be noted that because of what he called “Town Manager’s prerogative,” he is choosing to pay municipal bills, whether the contracts are legal or not, by his own admission. And yet through this “prerogative” reckless choices are being made that could leave the High School fire alarm system unrepaired.
The School Committee will hold the Municipal government 100% responsible for any and all consequences of failure to pay the bills to maintain the operations of the schools. Any safety issues, or interruption of any and all school services will be the full responsibility of the Town Manager and his designees who have manufactured this crisis.
The Municipal government, by Mr. Rowe’s own admission, continues to pay bills for Municipal operations on contracts that are entirely illegal, such as the one with ADP, WHICH WAS NEVER PUT OUT TO BID AT ALL. Yet they choose not to pay school department bills on contracts which were fairly advertised, bid and awarded years ago.