Three months after board Chairman Tim Blaney expressed concern about the Johnson County School District’s purchasing policies, business manager Tom Sarvey has drafted the district’s first purchasing manual.
The 48-page document specifies the proper procedures that district employees should follow when making purchases, Sarvey said. The entire document was created referencing existing district policy on purchasing and has been reviewed by district administrators, secretaries and business office staff.
According to the document, the intent is “to make all purchases in the best interest of the District, to ensure that the District complies with all state statutes, to utilize taxpayer dollars in the best possible way and to assure that proper and ethical purchasing practices are followed as good stewards of these public funds.”
The manual is designed to help the district follow state law and board policy on purchasing, promote efficiency in purchasing practices and achieve financial savings through proper purchasing practices, according to the document.
According to the manual, Superintendent Jim Wagner is authorized to issue purchase orders without prior approval of the school board when formal bidding procedures are not required by law and when budget appropriations are adequate to cover the expenses.
Wagner will secure approval of the school board for any items that will cost between $10,000 and $25,000 based on informal competitive quotes and for any items that will cost over $25,000 based on competitive bids.
According to the manual, competitive bids – for items over $25,000 – and quotes – for items under $25,000 – should be solicited whenever possible. Contracts will be awarded on the lowest bid or quote that complies with all other stipulated conditions.
All district staff who submit purchase orders to the business office should have a rationale as to why the purchase is essential to the district, including whether it positively affects student learning and meets a long-term need, the manual says. Employees who make unauthorized purchases could face consequences ranging from a verbal warning to a three-day suspension to loss of employment.
The manual also stipulates that the district will begin implementing an annual discretional spending freeze every March 31. The freeze will allow the business office sufficient time to project and plan for year-end budget carryover.
The manual was originally up for approval by the school board on Aug. 12, but trustees declined to do so because their responsibility is to set policies, not procedure, Blaney said. Thus, the manual can be implemented without board approval.
Still, Blaney encouraged school board members to become intimately familiar with the new document.
“Since we are charged with fiscal responsibility, it is important for board members to know how this works,” Blaney said. “Please do read this.”
The purchasing manual can be found in its entirety at https://go.boarddocs.com/wy/jcsd1/Board.nsf/Public. It is Consent Agenda Item G on the Aug. 12 board meeting agenda. The manual also includes copies of all purchasing policies used in the district.