Investigation underway after awarding of a Barlow High boiler contract without a call for tenders

REDDING – Region 9 school district is reviewing its financial transactions after being made aware of a contract for a new high school boiler that was signed last June without the knowledge of board members, according to one communicated.

School board members only learned that former director of finance and operations Clarence Zachery approved a purchase order for the $ 225,360 boiler contract at Joel Barlow High School in September, according to the lawsuit. -verbal of the October 9 region special meeting. New district superintendent Jason McKinnon, who began his new role on September 20, briefed board members on the contract shortly after taking office.

Zachery is not named in the statement, only referred to as “former employee”. The statement also cited the boiler contract price at $ 216,884, instead of $ 225,360. It is not known why these two numbers differ. McKinnon could not be reached for comment on Monday.

In early 2021, the boilers were in need of repair, McKinnon told the board at the special board meeting on Oct. 21. One of the boilers had a cracked section and the other needed a new fuel pump. A contractor had reported “significant scaling inside the boiler,” suggesting it was clogged with debris. A contract was then signed on June 29, 2021.

At the meeting, board member Mike D’Agostino expressed concern over the way the contract was executed. He was particularly concerned that the jury members had not been made aware of any issues until McKinnon brought it to their attention, and that the supplier recommending the repairs was the same one who made the repairs. previously.

“It’s something that takes us all by surprise. It’s something that I believe as an individual board member requires careful investigation and answers, but I appreciate that Dr. McKinnon has come and provided us with information that will get us started, ”he said at the meeting.“ We have to be wary of single diagnoses, but we seem to be in a position where things are happened without our knowledge, so we kind of have to look at that to move forward. “

The district statement acknowledged the failure of the tender for the boiler contract. However, the district still considered that the contract “was enforceable” and that a boiler is being installed in the high school.

McKinnon also informed the board that the new equipment was not budgeted for in the district’s operating budget or investment plan for 2020-2021, and instead was part of the general fund in an account called “Services. cleaning and repair ‘.

In response, members created a new account specifically for the purchase of the boiler which was to be covered by $ 189,855 in unspent money in the special education transportation fund and $ 35,504 in the transportation fund. students.

Zachery was hired into the district in November 2020 under the direction of former Superintendent Rydell Harrison. This summer, the News-Times reported that Zachery intended to stay in the district only until September. Previously he worked as Director of Financial and Operational Support for Stamford Schools.

Scott Petruzzelli has now been listed on the district’s website as Director of Finance and Operations since October 18, 2021.

In response to the situation, the district hired a regional accounting firm to review the district’s financial transactions prior to the school board audit.

“The board and administration are fully committed to ensuring that all school district purchases are made in accordance with board policies regarding purchasing,” the press release said in closing.

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