In 2007 voters approved a technology override for 57.4M. This money was earmarked to purchase computers for students and give them access to the internet.
What we received on that investment as far as we can tell is -only- access to the internet… albeit, excellent, high quality, access to the internet purchased through a new vendor, Hewlett Packard.
Barb VeNard, director of educational services and technology at Gilbert Public Schools, according to the Arizona Republic who obtained copies of the emails through a public records request, sent emails to her husband Jim VeNard who has been a long time salesman of HP products. These emails allegedly forward inside information about the Cisco price quote during the negotiations of the deal. According to Barb VeNard there was not a sweetheart deal and instead a pair of independent consultants were hired that recommended the deal to the governing board. According to the Arizona Republic, “In mid-summer, she hired for $3,000 a family friend to act as a consultant, Mike Weaver, and an assistant, Ravi Achanta, to compare the networks in price and quality. The men work for Insight.com in Tempe but were acting as independent consultants.” According to these sources, Ms. VeNard hired a family friend to recommend the deal to the board, after she had sent inside cost information to her husbands email.
The district technology director at the time, Jean Holte recommended that the contract go through a formal call for bids. However, Barb VeNard decided against that. According to the Arizona Republic, Clyde Dangerfield, attorney for the district said in an interview that he had told VeNard to be careful with the contract because of the impression that her husband, Jim VeNard, could be influential in her decision, given his past as an HP product salesman.
Now GPS wants us to bring our own kids technology (BYOT)? To learn more about what $57+ Millon buys these days, read:
According to this article, they tell us the plan will be a success if more kids bring their own computers and technology. A success? For who? For the district after they swindled us into approving 57.4M to put technology in the classroom and now expect us purchase the technology ourselves?
This article encourages parents to purchase discounted laptops and tablets through a referral from Gilbert Public Schools. They went through all the trouble to find us a vendor to buy computers from. Did they? Or did they already have a vendor in mind from the start? Would it be the vendor Jim VeNard works for now?
Come on voters, it’s for the kids. Kids will suffer if we don’t approve another override this November. Or will it be the admin that will suffer? Voters should be asking GPS to account for the last technology override before voting for another override this November?
Remember the old saying, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…
*Correction and update published 8/31/12