The Stockton Unified School District trustees discussed and adopted a response at a regularly scheduled board meeting last week to a 2014-15 San Joaquin County civil grand jury report criticizing district officials and trustees for their handling of the purchase and sales process of 31 never-used special-education school buses.
The board did not agree with a majority of the recommendations made by the grand jury: chiefly on the finding that the board bought the buses without proper analysis, the district said they demonstrated that staff compiled and provided a six year financial and operational history record of special education transportation services from 2007-08.
They said the decision to purchase the buses in June 2013 was made on facts and analysis available at the time, only after receiving information from staff.
In responding to the recommendation that the board should adopt a policy requiring at any proposal for the purchase or sale of district assets exceeding $30,000, district staff will provide a full accounting, justification and financial reports, the board will not implement.
Their response is they currently follow bidding, purchasing and contract practices as summarized in the Governing Board Policy.
In a report released June 16, the grand jury said the decisions to spend $2.05 million to purchase the buses in 2013 and to then sell them a year later were made with little documentation.
During its review, the grand jury determined bus service for special-needs students was also managed ineffectively. The grand jury found the district had been transporting on buses reserved for special-needs students about 100 students who were not qualified, based on their Individual Education Plans.
The Record previously reported that in June 2013, trustees unanimously agreed to buy the buses. Storer Transportation had previously handled that transportation on a contractual basis.
Carlos Chicas, a former SUSD transportation director, said last year the district would realize an annual savings of at least $700,000 by using its own buses and drivers. Wayne Martin, an ex-chief business officer, supported the proposal.
Both have since left SUSD.
The grand jury found information provided to trustees was “too brief, inadequate and generated very limited or no discussion.”
The grand jury recommended in the future that any new purchase exceeding $30,000 should have a full accounting and justification as required by board policies and the California Education Code.
The recommendations, the report states, are meant to strengthen SUSD operations.