Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui cunningly got SC approvals!

SC voted Transfers / Expenditures in question

Salah  Khelfaoui Sun Photo Bob Whitaker
Salah Khelfaoui
Sun Photo Bob Whitaker

Forget Chap 44 section 33B…forget school committee members concerned about how a portion of a Supt. Salary can be paid out of Food Service. Forget that DESE or the Feds (monitoring the CEP program) could overrule some of these chargebacks.

There is nothing amiss…except for those people like myself who underestimated the brilliance of Supt. Khelfaoui and the creatively cunning way he got the Lowell School Committee to vote on transferring a portion of his salary, and portions of the HR Directors salary, the CFO’s salary and a few other things like office space and telephones charged to food service freeing up monies for technology and okaying spending most of the 2015/2016 free cash before the city could take it.

You sir are brilliant and I a mere mortal just a windbag. I bow to your knowledge and ability to manipulate.

At the June 1st meeting of the Lowell School Committee there were these items listed for Transfers.

Transfer Requests:
Motion to transfer the following the following three requests.

Transfer Request #1
From: School Suspense Account $2,610,198.
To: Employee Salary Accounts $2,225,000
Special Education Transportation $ 385,198

The purpose of this transfer is to pay for salary increases due to the contractual employee association agreements and additional special education transportation costs in excess of the original budget.

Transfer Request #2
From: Food Service Revolving Account $1,138,816
To: Reimburse Admin indirect costs For 2015-16 $243,438
Reimburse Tech Services For 2015-16 $151,361
Reimburse custodial cleaning for 2015-16 $744,117

The purpose of this transfer is to reimburse the school department local budget for expenses associated with the school lunch program for 2015-16.

The $243.438 listed for “Admin indirect cost” includes a portion of his salary, and portions of the HR Directors salary, the CFO’s salary and a few other things like office space and telephones cost.

I’m told that the request for transfer to pay “admin” cost however did not include the specific breakdowns. The committee approved $243,000 without knowing exactly what they were voting on. What the School Committee voted for in a lump sum was broken down as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 3.45.30 PM

The breakdown by specific account was never published in a public document for parents/ taxpayers or School Committee members the see. However the School Committee did in fact vote for these transfers whether they like it or not.

There is clearly no attempt at transparency but shame on me /them for not asking more specific questions and shame on me for assuming transfers of almost a quarter of a million dollars would be clearly posted and explained.

The expenditures for Technology were even more cleverly disguised but to his “credit” they were listed if you took out your secret decoder ring, drilled down and read the fine print it’s there.

At the June 15th meeting the CFO brought in a revised transfer item from the June 1st meeting, inserted it in to the new packet and then discussed the changes at the School Committee meeting under the heading of Approval of the Minutes of the Regularly Scheduled School Committee Meeting of Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

Here is the revised transfer information that was included in the June 15th meeting that includes the changes from the June 1st approved transfers.

Budget Transfers 06 15 16

In this report the Supt / CFO basically take the funds from the food service that they voted to transfer

Reimburse Admin indirect costs For 2015-16 $243,438

Reimburse Tech Services For 2015-16 $151,361

Reimburse custodial cleaning for 2015-16 $653,187

and use $915,000 for computer hardware and takes some of the money from the suspense account originally scheduled for employee salary accounts to use for more computer and technology purchases.

The School Committee approved the revised transfers that totaled over a million plus for technology! That’s why the School Dept issued PO’s of over a million dollars the last two weeks of June.

I missed the meeting and didn’t read the minutes of the last meeting being approved so I look like the dope for saying expenditures were not approved. Again No transparency – No clear posting on an Agenda to inform the public but it got done.

Was it clear to the committee or people watching at home that what they were doing was also spending most of the “free cash” ?

NO! but if you go to LTC and listen to the 2 meetings and focus on the discussions around transfers , you here the CFO say on a couple occasions that we need to spend the local funds because the city is going to take back all the free cash. They took $300,000 last year and will take all of it.

So I have to tip my cap to the cleverness of the a Supt. and CFO, apologize for saying he did things without votes and congratulate him on getting the School Committee to go along with everything he wanted even if they did not know that’s what they were doing and even if it was done without transparency and without clearly informing the public of what was taking place. It was a cunningly brilliant series of moves that allowed you to get everything you wanted including keeping any “free cash” for use in the schools.

Even if DESE or the Feds overrule the Salary charges against food service I’m told it is the city not school dept. that will be responsible to reimburse the food account.

No wonder the politics don’t bother you…you’re more clever and cunning than the six people you work for..and you just let them know it!