Board of education to vote on consultant

January 17, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The Washington County Board of Education will vote Tuesday night on approving a consultant that has already started working for the board.

Shortly before the Christmas break in December, the board hired the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), for $18,000, to help with the search for a new schools superintendent. Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan is retiring from the school system at the end of February.

Earlier this month, Board Vice President W. Edward Forrest said the board did not have to vote on the contract because it was a professional services agreement that cost less than $50,000.

On Monday, Board President Wayne Ridenour said there appeared to be conflicting policies and to make sure the matter is addressed correctly, the board will vote on the contract during Tuesday’s business meeting. The issue was not part of the published agenda for the meeting, but will be added to the agenda for the meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Central Office off Commonwealth Avenue.

The policy for professional service contracts states the superintendent is authorized to approve contracts less than $50,000 for professional services, according to a copy of the policy at the school system’s website at

Ridenour said Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan was not involved in the contract with MABE.

Another policy, for consultants to the board, states any proposed contracts with consultants will be submitted to the board for approval and will be accompanied by figures showing the estimated cost of the consulting project. That policy also states that, where appropriate, bids for consulting services shall be sought, but the board has discretion in selecting a contract.

Ridenour has said MABE’s price was the least expensive among the proposals the board received.

No one complained about the lack of a vote on the contract, Ridenour said. Board member Justin Hartings brought the matter of the conflicting policies to Ridenour’s attention, Ridenour said.

Ridenour said he consulted with the board’s attorney, who informed him the contract could fall under either policy, but advised the board to vote on the contract so both policies are followed.

Because the two policies have some crossover, Ridenour said the Policy Committee will probably review them.

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