Communications Burning Through Money Intended For Kids

We’ve written previously (and so many others have as well) about the new versions of the communications department in Jeffco. Who can forget about the issues caused by the former chief who lasted less than 6 months and caused so much drama???

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/loss-of-communications-expertise/

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/competency-in-hiring-please/

 

Then, our Superintendent decided it was STILL just fine to hire unqualified political hacks as staff. Not very good management decisions but, then again, he’s likely only carrying out the directives of the Board majority who need to be recalled…

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/dan-we-found-all-of-this-is-10-minutes/

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/have-you-really-been-trying-dan/

 

But the newest scoop, from Citizens for Responsible Education is alarming and a travesty against our children. The very funding that is intended to serve them is being grossly misused.  Read below:

Jeffco Schools PR firm contract 34% over budget, district now being charged $60/hour for board correspondence.

Wait, what?!? The district already had staff to help with that! When was this decision made by the Board to shift John Newkirk’s responsibilities to a consulting firm?

 

  • The total costs to the district now stands at $84,062.
  • Jeffco’s original contract with Novitas was for $50,000 for a term just under five months.
  • Novitas exceeded the original agreement by over 34%.
  • The district renewed the contract at the same price, but reduced the term to two months.
  • Novitas has charged the district over $3,400 in July to respond to board correspondence.   Novitas charges $60/ hour for this service.

 

An investigation into Jeffco schools PR expenses has revealed new information about the services and charges of Novitas Communications.  The district signed a contract with Novitas back in February.  The contract stated that services that weren’t to exceed $50,000 over a term of just under five months (02/9/15-6/30/15).  This cap was apparently ignored.  The district paid Novitas $67,082 over the course of the five-month contract and was 34% over budget.

 

   Novitas charges to district

 

 February  $13,946
 March  $14,162
 April  $13,139
 May  $15,150
June  $10,685
 July  $16,980
Total  $84,062

The district also signed a renewal for the contract, keeping the amount at $50,000, but only for a two-month term (7/1/15-8/31/15).  For the month of July, Novitas charged the district $16,980.  Invoices for August should be available by about the second week in September.

Two months for $50K? And nearly $17K in July when students and most staff aren’t even in schools??? 

 

The records also indicate that Novitas has taken over responsibilities regarding board correspondence in mid-July.  These tasks are completed by Novitas employee Gabriella Mahan.  According to the July invoice, her duties have included receiving and cataloging board correspondence as well as drafting responses.  Novitas bills the district $60/hour for Ms. Mahan’s work.  Novitas charged the district over $3,400 to handle board correspondence from July 14th to July 31st.  In the past, responding to board correspondence was handled primarily by the Board of Education Secretary.

$60 per hour to write form letters?

 

On average, the district has spent over $14,000/month with Novitas.  Novitas employees provided approximately 40-50 hours of work per week to the district.  Depending on who completes the work, the fee ranges from $50-$200 per hour.  The district will spend over $168,000 per year if the district continues to retain the services of Novitas at its current pace.

 

Check out the original posts with the CORA attachments here!

 

Another article on this from ColoradoPols – http://coloradopols.com/diary/74927/gop-media-flacks-way-over-budget-at-jeffco-schools#sthash.Y3u4xpl1.dpbs