Based upon the limited information we have, what are we ordinary citizens supposed to believe about the purchase of new school books by the Board of the Columbus Municipal School District (CMSD)? On Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, the School Board voted to approve a $600,000 purchase of school books from McGraw-Hill. Superintendent Philip Hickman, who has held that position since July 28 of this year, explained to the Board that the District’s low achievement levels on the McGraw-Hill test would be greatly improved if the Board purchased the new McGraw-Hill textbooks.
He said the new textbooks could bring student achievement up “five grade levels in one year.” Did he say how? No.
When did the Board last purchase new school books for the CMSD? Well, it’s been a good while. Not since May, 2014. Over three months ago … “at the request of former interim superintendent Dr. Edna McGill.” The purchase price was $505,979. Those books of May haven’t been used, won’t be used, and can’t be returned to the publisher. Who sold the books to the CMSD? Who were the people who received commissions or any other proceeds or benefits from the sale?
In other words, the Board approved a $505,979 purchase of school books in May, 2014, and approved a $600,773.84 purchase of replacement books in August, 2014. Most of the May textbooks remain unopened and all are unused. What were the other bids? Who sold the books to the School Board? Who received a commission or any other proceeds or benefits from the sale? The Devil is always in the details.
A million here, a million there; soon we’ll be talking about real money. As to results, we’ll just have to wait and see … perhaps for a very long time.
Ben C. Toledano
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.