And People Wonder Why So Many Don’t Trust LCPS???

By Loudoun Insider

Sarah Stinger lays out the duplicity of the LCPS bureaucracy in this on-point letter to the editor at Leesburg Today.  Do Hatrick and his compliant School Board really wonder why nobody on the BOS trusts them when they behave in this manner?  (Well, with the exception of The Champion and The Employee of course!)


Comments

  • Paula says:

    Here is some appropriate reading material for Hatrick’s next story time with the kiddies, Chicken Little and the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. Then he can amaze them with a real-life example of the same story lesson – his biography.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    So many LCPS apologists say that critics don’t have conrete examples of waste in the school system. Well, several teachers have laid out concrete examples here and elsewhere (where they can be protected from retaliation), and their handling of land acquistion is horeendous. If they treat the rest of OUR money as cavalierly as they treat their land acquistion money (as evidenced by the Wheatland fiasco and others) then we all should be concerned about where our money goes.

  • loudouninNC says:

    This was the subject of a paper I wrote for a development management course in my city and regional planning program. The school siting system is fundamentally broken. There are seemingly no objective criteria for ranking sites, an outdated prototypical site plan, a HUGE lack of consistency with the Revised General Plan (despite the mandate that it comply), virtually no public participation early in the process, a failure to work with our Towns successfully, etc etc etc. The list goes on.
    Years of overreliance on the proffer system and a failure to plan ahead left the school system scrambling to acquire adequate sites. Not allowing for flexibility in the process/program leaves cheaper land as the only means of reducing costs. This cheaper land isn’t available in the locations that fit the RGP, the existing infrastructure, or the populations to be served and ends up giving us sites like Wheatland.

  • scott says:

    The LTE refers to a procurement policy violation. Is it? If so, what is typically done in government when such violations are identified?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Scott, when the site in question came through the process, there WAS no procurement policy functioning to violate, the only existing policy having been discarded piecemeal in attempts to placate various protest groups who declared the process “broken”, which indeed it was after they got finished with it!

    This drama has been recycled several times, since before Wheatland, in fact, because the drama remains the same. Only the sites for which it is repeatedly aired change from time to time.

    (LI, is this part of your slate? lol)

  • Scott says:

    Ms. Munsey, this is very interesting, are you saying Loudoun County and LCPS has no procurement policies?

  • Jack says:

    Crazy idea time. To save money, eliminate, and I mean ELIMINATE, all payments to teacher retirement funds.
    .
    .
    .
    (Waiting for screaming to subside…..)
    .
    .
    .
    Now, for teacher retirement, tax former students 0.1% for each year they are in public school. Those funds will be parsed out equally amoung those students’ teachers.

    How’s THAT for incentive to educate?

  • Sarah S says:

    Ms. Munsey tries to re-direct with her familiar cries of a protest group forcing elected officials to discard their policies. The point of my LTE (thank you LI for raising this issue) is apparent PROCUREMENT policy noncompliance by LCPS. I would expect the very well-informed Ms. Munsey to know if LCPS is exempt from the Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA):

    § 2.2-4319. Cancellation, rejection of bids; waiver of informalities. — A. An Invitation to Bid, a Request for Proposal, any other solicitation, or any and all bids or proposals, may be canceled or rejected. The reasons for cancellation or rejection shall be made part of the contract file. A public body shall not cancel or reject any ……, bid or proposal … to avoid awarding a contract to a particular responsive and responsible bidder or offeror.

    § 2.2-4357. Ineligibility. — A. Any bidder, offeror or contractor refused permission to participate, or disqualified from participation, in public contracts shall be notified in writing. Prior to the issuance of a written determination of disqualification or ineligibility, the public body shall (i) notify the bidder in writing of the results of the evaluation, (ii) disclose the factual support for the determination, ….

    NOTE: LCPS did not produce any document submitted to the disqualified RFP responder, when we specifically requested to review those files under FOIA. Therefore, either they did not inform the respondent in writing, in accordance with the VPPA, or they did not comply with FOIA. Far worse however, when a contract is awarded, as a result of a RFP procurement, to a bidder that failed to submit a response to the RFP, the entire procurement appears blatantly pre-determined or “fixed”.

    § 2.2-4376. Misrepresentations prohibited. — No public employee having official responsibility for a procurement transaction shall knowingly falsify, conceal, or misrepresent a material fact; knowingly make any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations; or make or use any false writing or document knowing it to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry.

    § 2.2-4377. Penalty for violation. — Any person convicted of a willful violation of any provision of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, any public employee, in addition to any other fine or penalty provided by law, shall forfeit his employment.

    Another concern is another related LCPS procurement. LCPS sole-sourced the Wheatland Farm hydrogeologic study indirectly to the seller’s (Cangiano) consultant. A different consulting firm that had previously performed the exact type of study for LCPS in 2007 at the nearby Grubb Farm clearly had specific professional knowledge in that area, yet that firm was not afforded an opportunity to submit a bid. While issuing the work to Cangiano’s consultant may be acceptable to my School Board representative, it isn’t to me. Furthermore, LCPS never even prepared a scope of work or solicitation for the task (we asked for it but they could not produce it in their FOIA response), much less did they obtain competitive bids. These actions also appear to conflict with this section of the VPPA:

    § 2.2-4303. Methods of procurement.
    E. Upon a determination in writing that there is only one source practicably available for that which is to be procured, a contract may be negotiated and awarded to that source without competitive sealed bidding or competitive negotiation. The writing shall document the basis for this determination. The public body shall issue a written notice stating that only one source was determined to be practicably available, and identifying that which is being procured, the contractor selected, and the date on which the contract was or will be awarded. This notice shall be posted in a designated public area or published in a newspaper of general circulation on the day the public body awards or announces its decision to award the contract, whichever occurs first.
    G. A public body may establish purchase procedures, if adopted in writing, not requiring competitive sealed bids or competitive negotiation …if the aggregate or the sum of all phases is not expected to exceed $50,000; however, such … procedures shall provide for competition wherever practicable. Purchases under this subsection that are expected to exceed $30,000 shall require the written informal solicitation of a minimum of four bidders or offerors.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Scott, several policies have been in a state of flux for a few years now, in a targeted-protest driven “make it up as they go along”, including site selection, and boundaries.

    There is a process for changing policy, and until a new one is adopted, existing policy should be the rule. At least under law, in any place not quite so exquisitely special.

    Not saying that existing policy (in anything) is the best of all perfect worlds, but until procedure is followed to institute new ones (in any area), existing policy is the rule (fortunately or unfortunately, as the case and opinion may be).

    There are policies on the books that have been trashed well in advance of any consensus on replacement.

    Nice recycle, Sarah, but it doesn’t answer the question of whether or not you’re part of the slate.

    I won’t ask if you’ll be running against Ms. Bergel, because you two may not end up in the same new district.

  • Sarah S says:

    Barbara, I have no idea what you are talking about. The only slate I know is a metamorphic rock. With respect to running, there are far better candidates that are likely to run against Jennifer. True to your standard MO, you attempt re-direction when you don’t want to talk about a topic that some hope you can help them bury. The question is not about me or rocks, it’s about LCPS administrators…LCPS administrators violating procurement regulations explicitly developed to protect Virginia taxpayers from costly insider dealings. I’m guessing from your avoidance, that this is a more sensitive issue for your associates than I could have hoped for. Thanks, I’ll sleep better tonight.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, frame it as you wish.

    There is nothing new here in your material.

    My associates? Nope, sorry. If you’re losing sleep because of who you project I’m “associating” with, then that’s a whole new height for you, and a good waste of sleep, but hey, knock yourself out.

    Nice diversion on slate too–mentioned here recently was a complete slate of candidates for school board, and I was wondering if you are a potential.

    Your comment on the school job cut article on L2D, IMO was a better point than your letter.

    The spread of income here does give us a skewed median, just as the spread in cost per school seat from the 800 student elementaries to the 100 student schools grossly skews our cost per pupil.

    If you are interested in any cost savings in the school system, you may wish to apply the same principle to per pupil cost throughout the system.

  • BlackOut says:

    Oh Snap! Colleague!
    .
    BAROUT might be in jeopardy on this one. I agree with you. We’ll have to drop our 100% guarantee a few points on this one, say to 98.5%

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Happy Easter, colleague!

  • local gop says:

    Completely unrelated, but why is Fimian listed as one of ‘Virginia’s Conservative Leaders?’

  • BlackOut says:

    Happy Easter to you too! It promises to be a wonderful weekend and celebration.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Barb, no slate has been formed as of yuet – still in the exploration stage. Bergel will be gone, however, that’s for sure.

  • Sarah, probably does not matter to you, but we’re in complete agreement this time. And LI…..Bergal is done. Had she stood up to Hatrick, she might have had a chance.She folded like a cheap lawnchair, and I was severely dissappointed. She started out so well.

  • Sarah S says:

    I’m not at all surprised Blackout approves, but now it seems the conservative Ms. Munsey believes school administrators did nothing wrong and should maintain freedom to spend our tax dollars however they damn well please. Simply because, I suppose, they have the authority to do so. She fusses about BOS, even though they were elected and thus given the authority to make their decisions. However, for some reason she won’t explain, it is verbotin to say anything wrong about LCPS and how they spend their budget. After all, saving money with price competition is overrated anyway. No, sadly Barbara their irresponsible “procurement” is not new news, but apparently for you it is 110% acceptable.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, the school board is also elected. They can indeed spend whatever money the BoS gives them “however they damn well please” under law.

    That’s the part you always seem to miss: until the proper process is followed to change policy, existing policy is all there is.

    Pointing to something else and stamping your feet might actually serve a purpose if your goal was to properly undertake to change procedure in beneficial ways, but your pattern has been to simply stamp your feet, and when the elected BoS discards policy for the sake of the foot stamping, then that is somehow fine for you, because they are elected and can do what they damn well please?

    (like the school board? lol)

    It would be nice to know what your specific goals are, Sarah. SPECIFIC.

    And are you running? (chirp….chirp….)

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    p.s.–your actual point about the skewed median–do you plan to apply that to cost per pupil skewing via small anachronistic schools, where some savings might occur?

  • Sarah S says:

    Barbara,
    I will answer your question, but I doubt you will answer mine. Here goes. No, I don’t have the stomach to be a politician.

    Now in response to your statements I must correct you. There IS most certainly a policy. I pasted several excerpts of it above. It’s called the VIRGINIA PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT (VPPA). So I am left to wonder why you continue to EVADE addressing the very subject of this post – the blatant violation of that policy. Here is my question which requires only a simple yes/no answer that instead I’m sure you will dance around as you do so well…Do you believe awarding a contract to a non-RFP responder while dismissing a valid RFP response complies fully with the VPPA?

    Like gun laws, unless existing policies are enforced, they mean nothing. And by the way, LCPS used a RFP to acquire school sites years before – Dr. Hatrick reminded everyone about it some time ago, so using a RFP isn’t “making it up to appease a protest group” – it is a VERY COMMON way for government and private industry to be sure they are getting the best bang for their buck. I would hope any calculation YOU make in your ongoing effort to justify closing functioning schools that serve as the center of their communities that YOU include debt service on new fully-equipped facilities and pupil transportation costs.

  • Sarah S says:

    p.s. my goal remains the same today as when I became involved 3 years ago – To raise public awareness of school siting decisions that sadly are being made based on POLITICS instead of LOGIC; to incentivize public officials (BOS, LCSB and LCPS) to actually involve the public being served while evaluating all available options; and, to nudge officials to consider the numerous cost-saving ideas identified by outside experts presented in various links at: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/schools.htm.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, the RFP in question was most certainly in response to protest.

    In addition, the procurement policy you reference is not in reference to land aquisition. You are choosing to read land acquisition as if it were an ongoing bulk commodity. Creative, but a stretch.

    Further, closing the small schools is not necessarily the best bang for the buck, as many would need to be brought to current code in a variety of areas before reopening, if ever.

    I think they should no longer be functioning as private schools within a public system, which skews the cost per pupil just as the median income does for supposed local affluence.

    I think it should be studied, as I’ve said before, to use them as dispersed special needs centers within the system.

    To do so might put some special needs services within closer reach of the people who need them.

  • Sarah S says:

    Blah blah blah – How did I know you wouldn’t answer the question. Even Blackout is silent on this embarrassment to LCPS and the County. I suppose you both believe Loudoun citizen’s interests were best served with the LCPS’ disregard of Virginia law when they failed to justify their sole-sourced procurement of Mr. Cangiano’s consultant to perform “objective” evaluation of Mr. Cangiano’s land they were in such a hurry to buy. The approval of LCPS’ irresponsible management of taxpayers funds by you (and by all School Board members charged with oversight duties) proves none of you are the fiscal conservatives you claim to be. Furthermore your vigilant desire to destroy the center of existing small rural communities like Hillsboro, all in the name of “cost-savings” is entirely inconsistent and hypocritical. So what is your goal? Perhaps to build new $$ schools County-wide to kick start more home building? Watch out your developer-promoting roots are showing. Who is the one with a political agenda here?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, “blah blah blah” is THE classic non-answer. How funny, and how predictable. Thank you!

    Procurement in this case has to do with things other than the abortive short term RFP demanded by protest, and then dismissed as not including the property you preferred (that week).

    Thank you for answering the question on running–sort of–but how about the other?

    What do you SPECIFICALLY want?

    Will you even have children in school when the third western HS opens?

    When Woodgrove opens?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    p.s.– “developer” on top of “blah blah blah”?

    Whose “roots” are showing?

    lolol

  • Sarah S says:

    What I want:
    To raise public awareness of school siting decisions that sadly are being made based on POLITICS instead of LOGIC; to incentivize public officials (BOS, LCSB and LCPS) to actually involve the public being served while evaluating all available options; and, to nudge officials to consider the numerous cost-saving ideas identified by outside experts presented in various links at: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/schools.htm

    My youngest will graduate in 2013, but Lovettsville is my community and I care deeply for it.

    You STILL didn’t answer my question, do you think LCPS’ procurement complied with Virginia law? Yes or No?

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Those are very nice platitudes Sarah, and nicely regurgitated from the same links about greener grass.

    You were far more clear when you wrote on the old WaPo blog and John Stevens’ that until every child in the county was suffering like the kids in Valley cluster, the system would not be fair.

    Your issues re siting were aired thoroughly last year, and boiled down to the fact that it would be really nice if we did it like some counties in MD.

    Fine, but tell me, how much time and money will it take to adapt VA law to that (including the constitution, requiring passage by two successive GA sessions, and then a popular vote)?

    I did answer your question, but you obviously don’t like it.

    You are cherrypicking from state procurement regarding everything from cleaning supplies to contract services. You have skipped over the caveats addressing the very issues of our “broken” policy (as delineated in 22.1 7, among other places), a policy broken in the process of trying to appease.

    If no established policy is being followed, I guess you can cherrypick out which rules apply (now that others have been set aside without proper process, but hey), at least in your world.

    IOW, no, they did not violate discrete sections of state law which you have chosen to apply out of context after the fact (of state law being broken to disrupt a process for you, and for others).

    This is a good lather rinse repeat.

    Anger will no doubt draw the same crowd.

    What will you actually accomplish?

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Barbara, you seem to have to disagree with anything Sarah says just because it comes from her. LCPS screwed up hugely with that Wheatland deal, in so many ways. There is no excuse for their behavior in that situation – it’s shameful.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    And what do you propose to do with all those western elementary students after you close all their schools (that are already bought and paid for)? Bus them in to Leesburg somewhere? Let them spend hours on a bus? And don’t forget that even with under-enrolled western elementary schools, those geniuses at LCPS built another elementary school in Hamilton. And you want to always defend their brilliant planning.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    LI, I am not advocating “closing all western elementary schools”.

    Octopus boundaries keep some very small schools open, as yes private venues within a public system.

    Full enrollment of 100 pupil schools will only bring the cost down per seat by a bit–the cost to provide parity of core facilities to tiny numbers is still greater in smaller schools. Why else is there the argument to increase the size of schools in general?

    Altering boundaries by the year to keep 100 student schools full at a minute saving would seem to belie the “community school” mantra so often put forth by those who benefit from those small private schools.

    Open enrollment has been the policy for some years now, and they still aren’t at full capacity, which is still no magic cost bullet.

    I think the facilities would serve better as localized provision of special needs services, rather than as the equivalent of private schools within a changing sytem that needs more change still.

    Remember Mrs. waters re EDC vs. EDA–are we going to continue to try to be all things to all?

    How do you think the costs got as high as they are?

    As for Sarah, yes, I disgaree with much of what she says, because it does not seem to be either solution oriented or grounded in reality.

    It is a nice set of “I want to do it how we can’t do it here” and “look over there”s, sometimes in conflict, and seemingly for the purpose of tearing down for the sake of tearing down rather than building a better mousetrap.

    And there is still the matter of there being a right and a wrong way to get from A to B if we’re going to pretend that there are any rules in a government process.

    The major thing “wrong” with Wheatland is that the right people said it was wrong.

    And Woodgrove isn’t open yet.

    And Harmony is still a stopgap.

    And on it goes, while people throw spaghetti on the walls as loudly as possible.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Barb, you know I don’t blindly follow the “right people”, but Wheatland was a horrible deal fraught with conflicts and favoritism. Just like that foisted upon us by both sides. Just because it was fought by people on the other side of you doesn’t mean it was a good deal.

  • Sarah S says:

    Barbara, please be more clear what the specific code citation you are referencing in your statement above, “You have skipped over the caveats addressing the very issues of our “broken” policy (as delineated in 22.1 7, among other places)”. What is 22.1 7?
    Its unfortunate you’re still so fixated on licking your Lenah wounds. Your point is well taken tho’, sticking to issues within one’s own district isn’t such a bad idea.
    Granted, since LCPS’ failures at Lenah and Wheatland, there appears to be some hope. I am referring to the Joint Committee’s public input sessions with the Ashburn/Landsdowne community last year on ways to deal with overcrowding in Broad Run and Stone Bridge.
    The question remains, what will drive placement of future Loudoun schools – will it shift to cost control and planning or will it remain political? I hope the progress the public has demanded continues, as I hope that the Western School Task Force’s great recommendations are heeded as school site acquisitions advance.
    Please do provide the specific Virginia code reference when you can.
    Thanks.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, read title 22.1 of the code. All of it is good, but the section I specifically referenced is a good place to start–the scope of the elected body corporate.

    Even though the BoS “controls” the school board by having control of the amount of money, the school board itself has rights and duties unto itself.

    You’re apparently still licking wounds over Woodgrove, and that’s okay, right?

    Lenah and Wheatland are emblematic of the total jettisoning of procedure to “fix” a “broken” one.

    As we discussed interminably last year, there’s a proper process for that.

    Proper process is what should be followed in changing process, particularly by people who like to say that the current process isn’t being followed to their satisfaction (the specific result they want, whatever that may be if they ever say).

    Lenah had much more to do with roads (still no CTP hearing, although the current commission will probably get there) and personal payback politically than anything else.

    The level of cross-pollenation between the core Lenah protesters and the core Wheatland ones was significant, and again, had very little to do with proper process, or actually locating schools anywhere.

    LI, again, there is a right and a wrong way to change things.

    While it may have been attractive for some to blow things up as a means to a changed end (not necessarily you personally), that is straight McGimsey: no process is good enough if she isn’t getting what she wants, and no process is necessary for what she agrees with.

    The same seems true for some of the perennial protest crowd.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    p.s. to Sarah–really, sticking to one’s own district is a good idea? Funny, that didn’t apply when you were using Lenah as a platform for your own issues–back in the days of “everyone must suffer”.

    Lenah is when it became political, that thing you now seem to decry.

  • Sarah S says:

    Barbara,
    I believe the final Woodgrove settlement to be fair, extremely divisive and painful due to the drama and time it took to reach, but ultimately fair because it set the precedent that government is not exempt from mitigating impacts of their own facilities. I totally agree with you on the point I raised about sticking to issues within ones own district – it applies to both of us. However, you’re infinitely less likely to see me doing it again than we are to see your involvement and “cross-polinating” with your collegues working in other Loudoun districts. How is it that YOU are somehow exempt from that? really?
    I totally support your right to rail against your PC and have never slammed you on it. Yet you rail against my disclosure of data that reveals LCPS’ bias. Your placement of blame for LCPS’ historic acquisition challenges and total lack of cost control on the shoulders of citizens “protesting” is childish: “It’s their fault, they MADE me do it”. And, your unique freedom to “protest” elected officials you disagree with (BOS and their appointed PC) while totally supporting those you agree with (LCSB), is nothing but hypocritical. Citizens involved IS part of the democratic process Barbara. And no matter how much you continue to vilify it, it is a component that most believe should be encouraged.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Sarah, you kill me–thank you for agreeing that you jumped in over here to work your own issue (which still isn’t too specific with what you actually want to happen and where, but okay).

    Now everybody needs to MYOB, especially me? So, we are only “one system” occasionally?

    “My colleagues” that I “network” with in your district? Too funny. I’m not the one who turned up in emails rabble rousing countywide, but okay.

    The childish behavior by some citizens seeking to circumvent and destroy process at any cost (yes, among the networked protesters) is not the shining example of free noble democratic participation you raise it up to be in retrospect.

    It would be interesting to see how much extra the machinations of the perenially dissatisfied add to the cost for everyone.

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