CAMDEN — Over the last few months there has been some confusion regarding the Preble Shawnee Local School District’s purchasing policy actually states. The board of education approved a change to the policy back in May, but later found a paragraph they had not been following.
It seems the paragraph was a mistake and the board was always following the proper purchasing policy.
Board policy 6320 deals with purchases. The old policy had been in existence for years (it can be dated back to 2003). It stated, “When the purchase of, and contract for, single items of supplies, materials, or equipment amounts to $25,000 or more, and when the Board determines to build, repair, enlarge, improve, or demolish a school building the cost of which will exceed $25,000, the Treasurer shall obtain competitive bids.”
However, sometimes policies have to be adjusted due to state legislature.
“We have a company that we contract with for our board policies and updates. They meet with us twice a year to go over policy changes — things that come down from the state government that require us to modify our policies,” Superintendent Matt Bishop said.
The state made a change which allowed districts to bump the purchase price from $25,000 to $50,000. According to Bishop, many districts were taking advantage of that.
In May the Preble Shawnee Board of Education approved the second and final reading on this policy change.
The new policy states, “When the purchase of, and contract for, single items of supplies, materials, or equipment amounts to $50,000 or more, and when the board determines to build, repair, enlarge, improve, or demolish a school building the cost of which will exceed $50,000, the treasurer shall obtain competitive bids.”
This change was supposed to be reflected online automatically, as the company replaces the policy in the system.
According to Bishop, during recent board meetings it was brought to their attention staff has only been turning in two quotes, instead of three.
“It was pointed out we have only received two quotes for many of the items that were $5,000 or more. So, when someone asks a question about a policy, we go to our website and print it out,” Bishop added.
The copy printed out stated the above policy change, but then it also said, “It is the policy of the Board of Education that the superintendent seek at least three price quotations on purchases of more than $5,000 for a single item, except in cases of emergency or when the materials purchased are of such a nature that price negotiations would not result in a savings to the district or when the item is subject to formal bid. Standardized purchasing procedures of the district shall be followed when purchasing on the basis of price quotations from vendors.”
The school had not been following that policy.
“When I looked at this and saw this paragraph, I didn’t remember seeing it before. It is not a paragraph most school districts utilize. For that paragraph to be in there, I was taken aback,” Bishop said. “After the last board meeting and knowing that people were concerned about us not following this policy, I went back and looked at the policy before we changed it in May.
“We knew that the only change we made was from $25,000 to $50,000,” Bishop added. “That paragraph should have been in the old policy, but it wasn’t and it wasn’t in the previous policy.”
Bishop called the contracted company and asked them about the policy. They figured out the mystery paragraph was from a different district. It took 20 minutes to change and now the board policy reflects the correct data.
“For policy, we do not need three quotes, but the direction that we give to our supervisors is that we want at least two quotes. If it is reasonable to get the three quotes, we want those,” Bishop said.
According to Preble Shawnee’s purchasing policy, if a purchase is less than $15,000 the Superintendent can approve it on his own. If the purchase is $15,000 or more, the board of education must approve the purchase, working off of the superintendent’s recommendation. If the purchase is $50,000 or more, it must go through formal bidding.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH