Education

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Seven: When reforms make headway, The Empire Strikes Back

In late September 2013, CCSD Trustee Erin Cranor came across information indicating that she and fellow trustees had been misled regarding the actual costs of an insurance contract the district was expected to sign.

Rather than falling, those costs were to rise between $6 and $7 million.

Also, differing from earlier versions of the contract, the pending agreement now tripled the commission to be received by the district’s consulting insurance broker, Business Benefits, Inc.

Whereas BBI previously received a 0.75 percent commission on deals negotiated for the district with insurers, the new terms — of which BBI had not informed the district — would have kicked the commission up to 2.25 percent.

Moreover, because commissions under the new terms were, as before, tied to the total cost of CCSD insurance deals, BBI now had an even larger financial incentive to get the district signed to the most expensive insurance contracts possible.

Concerned, Cranor asked the legal counsel for CCSD’s board of trustees to review the new contract language.

The board attorney’s recommendation? For CCSD to end its broker-of-record relationship with BBI.

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Education

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Six: What the Bramby Tollen episodes reveal about CCSD

It was 2009 when CCSD’s purchasing director let employees and consultants know she was intent on keeping district trustees in the financial dark.

As reported earlier in this series, Bramby Tollen directed SAP programming consultants to disappear when “a board member was coming to the department and she did not want the board member to see the consultants working in the department.”

The trustee was Carolyn Edwards, CCSD’s board president at the time, according to a Nevada Journal source.

Ad hoc candor

For a powerful CCSD central-office director to maneuver to maintain trustee ignorance is certainly noteworthy.

In the long run, however, what may have been even more significant was the mere fact, in this instance, of Tollen’s candor — her frank sharing with mere employees and consultants of what she was up to.

Although most likely inadvertent and not consciously intended, it still suggested both confidence that her power in the district was effectively beyond challenge and also that misleading trustees was routine.

Four years later, however, when Tollen was involved in yet another revelation of information that might interest the board, the results for her would be more consequential.

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Education

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Five: Disgusted and puzzled, a highly paid consultant walks away

During the first six months of 2008, Ken Forrest, an independent consultant and the principal of the LDRShipSolutions firm, was employed as a top-level Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project advisor to the Clark County School District.

Earlier, he’d been contacted by then-CFO Jeff Weiler, who’d called, saying, “I really need your help.”

Not only was Phase One of the project quickly burning money, it had also missed multiple go-live dates.

One of the first things Forrest and an associate did was to save CCSD substantial coin.

He says it became apparent to both of them “that SAP had all these consultants on site, but we couldn’t tie what they were doing to any significant work product.

“So we started tracking that and then went to Mr. Weiler and said, ‘We think we can get rid of a lot of these consultants and you won’t even notice.’ Which we did. As I recall, we got rid of about 13 of them. No one noticed that they were gone. They weren’t doing anything.”

Next was dealing with some difficulties the district was having getting the SAP Finance module “up and running and balanced.”

While CCSD had some good people working on the problem, in Forrest’s opinion, “some of the SAP consultants were less than effective, even at $367 an hour, which is, I believe, what they were charging…

“So we brought in Plante Moran, a national accounting firm. They’re big; you can Google them. They’re the guys the government brought in to fix everything after the Enron failure. I had worked with Plante Moran in Detroit. They’d been fantastic in helping me turn around what had been a qualified [accountants’] opinion to get” the Government Finance Officers’ Association Certificate of Excellence, among other awards.

“Anyway, we brought Plante Moran in, they assisted the district, and with the district’s significant contribution and help, they got that system balanced in six weeks, and up and ready to go.”

On other fronts, however — Payroll and Purchasing — Forrest says he saw significant roadblocks.

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Is civil forfeiture a boon for law enforcement?

Attorney General’s 2016 report suggests it may well be

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Four: District management’s ERP failure
is par for the course for government entities

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Three: Internal district memo say ERP failure
‘directly related to the lack of proper management’

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part Two: Why large school districts facilitate waste, fraud and corruption

CCSD’s systemic problem and
its expensive consequences

Part One: Lydia Segal identifies the fatal flaw in America’s big school districts

LVMPD going rogue on violent-crime statistics?

Abandons long-established FBI Uniform Crime Reporting standards

State requires more accountability
from Southern Nevada police agencies

Law enforcement must file detailed reports every three months

Firms cash in on lawmakers’ craving
for ‘Champion of Small Business’ label

But taxpaying businesses, public regularly shortchanged

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