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Hillsborough schools will fine-tune their contracting system

TAMPA — Doing business with Hillsborough County schools could involve more paperwork next year.

A 27-member contract management committee told the School Board on Friday it is considering a new checklist to document the need for and value of each contract, and a standard form to evaluate it afterward.

The idea is to impose more structure on the way schools hire experts, trainers and mentors.

"The one thing that I am looking for is consistency," said member April Griffin.

Chairwoman Candy Olson said she does not want to overburden district employees. "If we have a contract for $500, I don't want a full-blown audit," she said. "I also think it's important to trust the schools."

The discussion stems from questions raised recently about school-based contracts, often paid with money from the federal Title 1 program for low-income schools.

Board members discussed everything from how to make sure visitors are screened for criminal records to the difficulty of deciding how much to pay a speaker or mentor.

These so-called technical service agreements generally do not require competitive bidding, as they are written to bring individuals into the schools.

"I guess mentoring programs can all be considered unique," said member Susan Valdes, who brought the issue to the forefront in October.

The committee will unveil its new procedures at a School Board meeting in February, and could begin implementing them in March.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com.

Hillsborough schools will fine-tune their contracting system 12/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 9, 2011 10:30pm]
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