The Wicomico County Board of Education's Wasteful Spending and Misappropriation
For years, the Wicomico County Board of Education (WCBOE) has wasted millions of dollars that could have otherwise been wisely spent to improve education for students. Instead, they have allowed administration to carelessly spend out of their own personal convenience instead of utilizing their vendors in a fiscally-responsible manner. But who's looking? Not those who are currently in charge of overseeing the operation of our schools. Meanwhile, teachers don't even have enough materials to properly teach their class. The matter of wasteful school spending has been brought to the attention at a board meeting months ago, and nothing has been done.
The WCBOE has a list of vendors that they do business with. Follett is one and Amazon is another. Below you will see some examples of just two invoices that were obtained from a FOIA request for some book purchases that were made. Noted on the right of each invoice is Amazon's price for the same book and the calculated waste at the bottom of each invoice.
There are many other invoices that can reveal more waste, but you get the idea. It is not shown here, but Follett also charges a processing/shipping fee and Amazon does not. This is even more wasted money that adds up. Why didn't they purchase these books from Amazon? Somebody's pockets are being lined.
During an interview with faculty members, it was said that administration tells them which vendor to order from and that they don't have a choice. According to the the WCBOE Procurement Procedure ADM-FIN-PR-004, it is stated that: "The Departmental Buyer is responsible for vendor selection when the purchase is within their purchasing authority." It is clear that this isn't taking place, and nobody is bothering to check.
There's a pattern of waste, and it's not just limited to books. There are thousands of invoices with millions of dollars in waste and abuse. In addition to not getting the best prices from vendors, WCBOE administration has also been caught deceptively requesting funds for one purpose and then using it for another purpose on numerous occasions. This is called misappropriation. Here is an exhibit of calling out the misappropriation and a follow up with proof of the misappropriation. This stuff goes on quite frequently and without any real consequences.
The WCBOE and its administration will tout that they have had multiple financial audits that have passed with flying colors and even received rewards for their accounting. However, auditors hired by the school system (which is a conflict of interest) are not looking for wasteful spending, misappropriation, or grant compliance, but simply for pennies to add up. The pennies do add up for sure.
Ironically, the WCBOE and its administration keep asking our elected state representatives for more money when in fact the school system cannot even manage what they currently have. Our officials should be embarrassed and ashamed. As a school system, we need to responsibly manage what we already have. We need to first demonstrate that we can efficiently do more with less before we are worthy of requesting more. Throwing money at the school system does not improve education or make problems go away if the incompetence and negligence are not addressed. We need our elected delegates and senators to protect the citizens by helping to establish school financial accountability so that this abuse no longer continues. We also need to pave the way so that those who are in office decades from now can oversee the operation of our schools without a broken system. It's time to fix the problem.
Darren Lombardo, Candidate
Wicomico County Board of Education At Large
January 8, 2022 Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org