Editor’s note: After Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marguerite Rizzi, School Financial Coordinator Jessica Denison, IT Director Lawrence Gray, Town Treasurer Donna Erickson, Town Auditor Bill Rowe and two members of the Finance Committee met Thursday, March 15 to discuss the possibility of outsourcing payroll for both school and municipal departments, Dr. Rizzi sent the following letter via email to School Committee Chair Joyce Husseini as well as various media outlets, including Stoughton Patch.
At their Tuesday, March 13 meeting, the Stoughton School Committee voted unanimously (5-0) to release a response to the ongoing procurement dispute between the municipal side of government and the school department. .
The most recent letter from the school department can be found below:
Open letter to the Board of Selectmen from School Department on a matter of great urgency:
A meeting was held [Thursday] concerning the possibility of outsourcing payroll for the Town, including both the school and municipal sides of government. At that meeting were the Superintendent of Schools, the School Financial Coordinator, the IT Director, the Town Treasurer, two members of the Finance Committee, and the Town Auditor Bill Rowe.
At this meeting Mr. Rowe was asked if the Town had bid the contract with ADP payroll service that is currently used by the municipal side, and is in its 3rd year. Mr. Rowe said that the contract had never been bid. When asked if the payments to this company had been stopped as a result of it being an illegal contract, Mr. Rowe responded that he was in fact still paying these bills.
Mr. Rowe has stopped payment of bills from numerous vendors on the School side because of technicalities in bidding or advertising, many of which are in gray areas, or that the Schools have been advised by outside agencies have been done correctly. As a direct result of his continuous and repeated actions in these matters, service is in jeopardy in many important areas, including service on our HVAC systems. Mr. Rowe has pulled from the warrant, and refused to pay long time vendors such as our copier company, and told other companies they can sue the town if they want to get paid. The chimney service at the middle school, over $20,000 has not been paid because Mr. Rowe was not satisfied with all aspects of the bidding process. Now we find out that the standard applied to the Municipal and School contracts is entirely different. When asked why he refuses to honor the school contracts while paying for this clearly illegal town contract, Mr. Rowe said, “Town Manager’s prerogative.”
This is an outrage. We demand that the Board of Selectmen immediately direct the Town Auditor to honor the contracts entered into by the School Department in the way he is paying the Municipal contracts. The alternative is to stop payment on all contracts, and clearly this is not being done, even in the case of a major contract that was never sent out to bid! There can now be no question that selection of School contracts for non-payment is purposeful, adversarial, inconsistent, and entirely unacceptable and inappropriate.
The School Committee was forced to reject bids for cleaning supplies and classroom supplies because of the Town Manger’s alteration of the procurement process. These bids were given to Bill Rowe on Friday to rebid. Had the School Department been in charge of these bids, they would have been advertised on Wednesday. Mr. Rowe has not done this, and therefore the process will be delayed by another week. A crystal clear example of the substandard handling of the work we are very capable of doing. When asked why the Acting Procurement Officer had not done her job, Mr. Rowe said that she was not in but that she is not sick.
Please, stop this madness.
Editor’s note II: Bill Rowe declined to comment on this matter.