It was a big week for our Hamilton citizen leaders! First, on Tuesday night the Township Council introduced an ordinance that will require competitive hiring practices for insurance and professional service contracts. And soon after, the School Board gave notice that they will also be adopting a new purchasing policy later this month.
Taken together, these are two giant steps forward that will go a long way to restoring accountability and integrity in Hamilton Township. Check out today's press release announcing the new School Board policy to be voted on later this month.
For Immediate Release: February 8th, 2012
Hamilton Citizens Campaign Receives Commitment from School Board to Adopt Purchasing Policy
School Board Officials confirm Proposal will be Voted on February 20th
After reviewing the draft policy, provided by the superintendent, The Citizens Campaign met with district leaders to applaud the draft as an effective step in the right direction. During the meeting, school leaders announced they will begin the process to codify reforms at their Feb. 20th board meeting.
“The draft presented to The Citizens Campaign, if adopted, will go a long way towards stamping out corruption and send a clear message to the taxpayers, students, their families and district staff, that their best interest is being considered when contracting for brokered services occurs in Hamilton schools,” said Steven Cook, a Hamilton citizen leader with the Citizen Campaign.
The policy as drafted is substantially the same as The Citizens Campaign proposal brought to the School Board nearly a year ago. Since The Citizens Campaign’s initial presentation, the Board has already used some of our proposals, such as hiring insurance consultants on a flat-fee basis. This saved Hamilton taxpayers more than $800,000.
“Our goal from the start has been creating a process to guarantee Hamilton taxpayers and employees get the best benefits for the best price, we are confident that the District’s new policy will get the job done,” said Connie Silakoski, a Hamilton citizen leader who began the effort to bring competition and accountability to the insurance purchasing process.
Specifically, the policy requires the district to issue an RFP seeking competitive proposals for insurance coverage and insurance brokers or consultants, and any insurance brokers or consultants will be hired exclusively by the district on a flat fee basis, thereby eliminating the million dollar commissions brokers had received in the past.
The only substantial change from The Citizens Campaign’s proposal, the new policy won’t require to compare benefits to those offered by the School Employees Health Benefits Plan (SEHBP). Since the N.J. Dept. of Education is proposing this requirement anyway, it doesn’t need to be included in this policy.
Cook and Silakoski recognized Superintendent James Parla, Board President Jeff Hewitson and Vice President Joseph Malagrino for embracing the reforms.
“Some of us on the board were fighting for this reform for over two years, now we have enough support on the board with the newly elected members,” said Hewitson. “As guardians of school property, we have a fiduciary responsibility to be accountable for every dollar spent. It is clear to me that the board is moving in the right direction.”
Malagrino added, “The Citizens Campaign reinforced our beliefs that “best practices” included the implementation of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process to ensure effective and efficient management of school district funds.”
“I believe the reforms being placed into our new policy manual will definitely provide transparency and credibility for our procurement process,” added Dr. Parla. “I appreciate the contributions of The Citizen Campaign and Hamilton residents. I firmly believe that our procedures are now aligned in the best interest of our community.”
“The Citizen Campaign reforms, especially the insurance broker reforms, will restore confidence in the school district and are the perfect remedy to what ailed Hamilton.” said Cook.