Computer shuffle raises eyebrows on Barre school board
BARRE — When they learned this week that a computer ordered for a student with special needs ended up in the hands of their superintendent, Barre City School Board members had questions.
The first one was: Why?
At least that’s the one that occurred to board member Rachel Piper while thumbing through the district’s warrants at what was her final board meeting Monday night.
Piper, who won’t be running for re-election next month, said she understood that Superintendent John Bacon’s computer “bit the big one,” but what she didn’t understand is why the city’s school district was being billed for what should be a supervisory union expense.
“It looked like we just bought (Bacon) a computer,” she said. “That’s how it looked, and I’m like: ‘Why are we buying him a computer?’”
With Bacon away on vacation, Business Manager Mark Lyons did his best to fill in the gaps.
According to Lyons, when Bacon’s computer failed he was given one that had been ordered for a student at Barre City Elementary and Middle School. That, Lyons explained, is why the bill — along with some related emails — was in the stack of warrants that the Barre board approved Monday.
“It was all going to be worked out in the end so that everybody got what they needed and everybody was billed correctly,” Lyons said of a “temporary swap” that wasn’t a swap at all and probably won’t be temporary.
“What’s probably going to happen is the (supervisory union) will buy whoever that computer was directed to a computer,” Lyons said. “It was easier doing it that way than undoing it as long as the end result was the same.”
That assertion raised yet another question — this one from Special Services Director Andrea Wasson.
She asked Lyons to look into the status of the replacement computer because she was pretty sure the student in question was working with one that had been borrowed from elsewhere in the school.
And then board member Linda Riddle joined the discussion.
“Dr. Bacon needed a computer and the best he could figure out to do was to take a computer that had been special ordered for a child in need in this school?” Riddle asked incredulously. “There’s not another way for us to get the superintendent a computer than to take it from a kid?”
Riddle then added to Lyons’ homework.
“Could you also find out how long the kid was without a computer so that Dr. Bacon couldn’t be inconvenienced to run over to Staples?” she asked.
Piper said her only concern is that the district isn’t stuck with a bill for a computer it ordered but never received.
“As long as we’re reimbursed that’s all I care about,” she said.
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