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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

RUSD's Consultant Gravy Train Questioned

An employee of the Racine Unified School District is questioning why a consulting firm has billed the district for $1.5 million in less than two years in an attempt to cash in on savings that haven't been achieved as of yet.

Public Business Consulting Group, hired to manage the district's finances, has billed the district for more than $1.5 million in less than two years, school records show. Nearly half of that payment resulted from a provision in the group's contract that allowed it to collect a percentage of annual savings that are anticipated but not yet realized.

Mark Lucas, Racine Unified's coordinator of instructional technology, released a packet of internal documents Friday to School Board members and several government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the state Justice Department and the Department of Public Instruction's Audit Bureau.

"This will bankrupt the district," Lucas said of the consultant's contract. "This is a poor community that doesn't have $700,000 to give to (Public Business Consulting Group President) Nick Alioto."

First, I'd like to know just exactly what Alioto's ties are to Superintendent Tom Hicks. Almost all of the money spent by RUSD on consultants' fees have gone to companies and individuals with personal ties to Hicks. I bet there's a connection there somewhere.

Second, this is indicative of the mismanagement of the district by Hicks and pals. Under his (lack of) leadership, RUSD has become heavily dependent on consultants earning anywhere between $80 and $500 an hour. Hicks went so far as to recommend hiring consultants to recommend how to implement the recommendations of consultants from ICE and Deloitte on how to improve the school district's operations.

Yes, you read that right. That last sentence was not something that came out of the mouth of Yogi Berra.

Finally, why should anyone benefit financially from savings that have not been recognized? But that goes to show why Racine Unified is arguably the worst-run school district in the state.