$25,000 Contracts and Transparency
Example of an IL Statute Transparency Violation in District 65 (for a boring contract)
I posted yesterday about transparency. Now, let’s consider an example of broken transparency. This is a two part series; the first part today is about one banal contract and the second part will come this weekend about something more controversial.
District 65 appears to have a contract with GovernmentFrameworks.com. They pay about $50,000 a year and over the last two years have paid $100,530.00. Below are the list of bills paid the last two years. They signed this contract sometime during the 2021 School Year, because they have no bills prior to 2021-05-28 from GovernmentFrameworks.com.
Consider a statute in the Illinois School Code: 105 ILCS 5/10-20.44 says;
(b) A school board must list on the district's Internet website, if any, all contracts over $25,000 and any contract that the school board enters into with an exclusive bargaining representative.
This contract is not listed on the District’s website as far as I can tell. It is certain not listed in any of their “Contracts over $25,000” documents. I can’t find reference to it in any board meeting going back to 2020. I believe this is in violation of that statute. I’ve reached out to folks at the ISBE to see if I am interpreting the law correctly. They publish their own guide on the subject which states:
Compliance with this requirement can be achieved if, all contracts exceeding $25,000, including personal service contracts and agreements with an exclusive bargaining representative, are posted in a list on the district website. Subsequent to the initial posting, as such contracts exceeding $25,000 are awarded by the school board, they should be added to the list.
District 65 seems to be in violation of both the 105 ILCS 5/10-20.44 and ISBE guidelines. If anyone has seen documents that show otherwise, please let me know.
Part of the complaint I’ve heard from folks in Evanston is “I don’t know how the District is spending tax money. Where is it all going?” The answer is: You don’t know because the District does not appear to be complying with transparency requirements. It took me weeks to compile my spreadsheets, documents, and FOIA requests. In the case of $25,000 contracts, I shouldn’t have to, since they’re required to post them publicly.
Secondarily, the statute claims:
(c) Each year, in conjunction with the submission of the Statement of Affairs to the State Board of Education prior to December 1, provided for in Section 10-17, each school district shall submit to the State Board of Education an annual report on all contracts over $25,000 awarded by the school district during the previous fiscal year. The report shall include at least the following:
The District has been complaint with this; they’ve included this in their annual “Statement of Affairs”. To me, this looks like a government agency being transparent upwards (to the state) but not downwards (to the public). This is a totally innocuous contract; it is some kind of software for compliance-related thing. Why hide it?