Pinellas school board rewrites policy on surplus equipment
The Pinellas County School Board has rewritten its policy about how it disposes of surplus equipment after finding out that it was selling items for far less than it could have. Tim Russell of Big Tim's Pawn, blew the whistle on the district's auctions, saying that he could make $25,000 to $30,000 in profit on items he purchased for less than $900.
Former superintendent John Stewart initiated the changes after my former colleague, Rebecca Catalanello, wrote about the issue in May.
Under the revamped policy, the district will have a larger committee, which includes a principal and two teachers, that will determine whether surplus equipment could be of use still in another school or district location. Charter schools, too, could receive the equipment. (If a charter school then decides it doesn't need the equipment, it would go back to the school district.)
If items can't be used then they will be sold off.
"They're looking at where they can get the best return," said Michael Bessette, the district's head of facilities and operations.
The committee, which was formed over the summer, already has met three times. Committee members have decided to test-run two online auction sites, govdeals.com and publicsurplus.com, over the next year to see which one yields the best prices, said Melanie Marquez, a district spokeswoman. Onsite auctions also could still be used for some items. (District vehicles will not be sold online.)