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D-113A board questions unexpected computer costs

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014 9:27 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:54 p.m. CST

LEMONT – Discussions about further expenses related to computer purchases during the April 23 District 113A School Board meeting left some board members confused on why they were not earlier informed of the extra costs.

The district was asking for another $44,000 for imaging, management licenses and warranties on student and teacher devices that the board had approved during the March 19 meeting.

District Business Manager Barbara Germany said the $44,000 fell within the district’s technology budget for this year, where as the computers are being paid for with a state loan that only covers hardware costs.

She also said the board had been informed that this would be an additional expense based on the information given to them during the March 19 meeting.

“If you look at the spreadsheet they got last month, it was on there,” she said.

However, board members said they thought the more than $495,000 agreed to be spent on computers during the March 19 meeting included all related costs.

“Some of the board members had only seen what they had formally voted on,” school board president Cindy Kelly said.

Kelly said the additional expenses should have been presented to the board as part of the rest of the purchases instead of assuming the board would approve it as part of the budget.

“Just because it was in the budget doesn’t mean we were going to spend it,” she said.

During March, the board approved the purchase of 59 more Google Chromebooks than planned because it fit with the cost of the loan.

However, Kelly said that was under the assumption that there would be no additional expenses and the board may choose to not buy those additional Chromebooks.

The board delayed the vote on the $44,000 expenditure and will hear it again during one of the May meetings.

Until then, both Kelly and Germany said that more discussion is needed so that the district and the board have the same understanding of the expenditures.

“It’s very hard as a board member to spend this much money and not completely understand what you are buying,” Kelly said.

Also April 23, the board approved the leasing of new math textbooks and support materials on a three-year lease not to exceed $155,000.

The district will use the three years to evaluate the new materials and determine whether it will still need textbooks.

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