Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Navarro Board: $88 million in lease commitments

As MCPS Board of Education President, Nancy Navarro lead the Board to approve leases totaling $88,720,855. The leases commit MCPS to lease payments in some instances through the year 2014.

Run a search for the word "lease" in the MCPS Board of Education minutes archive to find out how many leases the MCPS Board of Education has ever approved. Why is this of interest? Last fall, Montgomery County citizens learned that 3,300 Promethean Boards were appearing in public school classrooms, and it turned out that at least 2,600 of them were purchased on a 4 year lease. That meant that the boards were in classrooms, but weren't paid for, and taxpayers were on the hook for 3 more years of payments at $3.3 million per year.

A search of the word "lease" in Board minutes turns up 38 instances when the Board of Education has approved the leasing of MCPS equipment. 30 of those 38 leases were approved by the Navarro led Board of Education from December 2006 to December 2008, for a total lease commitment of over $88 million. 25 of those leases have terms of 4 years or longer.

The terms of the leases are not disclosed and it is not known if Ms. Navarro actually signed any of the leases as required by her position. What we do know is that she did not sign the $5 million per year for 4 years Dell lease for 2,600 Promethean Boards, even though the Board President and the Superintendent were the only people authorized by the Board to execute these documents.

Can the Board of Education incur long term debt? Why the sudden explosion in lease commitments during Nancy Navarro's two year term as Board of Education President? Do these long term debts need to be approved by the Montgomery County Council as the appropriation authority?

Below is the list of leases approved by the MCPS Board of Education during President Navarro's term. Source: MCPS Board of Education minutes.

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