Open Records Request Reveals Treasure Trove of School District Documents

The records include details about technology purchases, among other things.

by Xavier Smith, The Lebanon Democrat, Tenn. / August 12, 2016
Flickr/Lisa Nottingham

(TNS) — The Wilson County Board of Education meeting room has been transformed into a time capsule of Wilson County Schools' building and purchasing history as it unveiled open records requests this week.

The Wilson County Ethics Committee sent a pair of ethics complaints to the school district in June after Cris G. Corley filed both complaints after he said he observed "possible waste and abuse of Wilson County taxpayer funds" in relation to the renovation project at the old Lebanon High School.

Corley's first ethics complaint prompted a series of questions from the Ethics Committee, which led to a more detailed follow-up complaint, which led to an open records request to the school system from multiple commissioners, led by Commissioner Jerry McFarland.

The open records request to the school system included:

--all requests for proposals on all buildings built or expanded since 2010.

--all bids submitted against all proposed schools to be built, individually, since 2010.

--all contracts awarded for school buildings to be built and completed from 2010 to present.

--all purchase orders by Wilson County Schools' administration since 2010.

--all receipts or money returned to the school administration from the sale of all scrap or surplus property since 2010.

--all inventory records on materials, parts, furniture, computers, including laptops, Chromebooks and IT equipment, since 2010.

--a complete inventory of all the above technology equipment that was purchased through Wilson County bonds since 2010.

--the location of all technology equipment by school since 2010.

--information relative to the old Lebanon High School renovation.

Wilson County Schools director Donna Wright said the collection of information involved about 350 documented man hours, $18,000 relative to cost of printing and about 13,000 purchase orders. Wright said the collection also includes information prior to 2010, which is when the district was required to start using a hard bid system for projects.

The school board meeting room is decorated with dozens of binders, blueprints, storage containers and packets of information as vague as district-wide growth plans and detailed as purchase orders for Wilson County Adult High School office labels.

About 30 binders are dedicated to purchase orders since 2010 and several have 200-300 pages or more. The available information also includes product catalogs used for purchasing, technology assets and receipts of sale for surplus items.

The information also includes details of who authorized purchases and dates of purchases, including signatures.

Several commissioners made their way to the Central Office to view the items Wednesday, with several more expected Thursday morning.

"I really cannot emphasize how much volume it is. It is important to us, as well. As I've said many times, as we've been going through this, myself particularly, I've learned a lot. Much of it predates me, so it's been a lot of good information for me to review, as well," Wright said last week.

The information will be available to commissioners until Sept. 8.

©2016 The Lebanon Democrat, Tenn., distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.