SWARTZ CREEK — Swartz Creek Community Schools Supt. Jeff Pratt has asked GenNET to send an itemized list of its inventory in the district to his office while the Board of Education weighs its decision to stay or leave the GenNET Consortium. At the board’s Oct. 7 meeting, Pratt said he had received an e-mail from the Genesee Intermediate School District saying “they want to send a team out to verify the inventory.”
“I told them to send a list before they come out. We have our own list,” he said.
At the meeting, Pratt also mentioned that Clio Community Schools received notification of a lawsuit filed against them by GenNET. “The superintendent, board of education president and head technician have all been named in the lawsuit,” he said. Pratt, along with all the Genesee County superintendents, sit on the GenNET board and were aware of the lawsuit. “I was not allowed vote on the lawsuit, but I questioned it,” he said.
The Swartz Creek Board of Education has been discussing its agreement with GenNET since an Aug. 26 meeting when Pratt brought up an agenda item concerning the increase cost per pupil from GenNET. At the meeting, Pratt asked the board to approve a fee of $13 per student for GenNET expansion for the 2010-2011 school year. The GenNET Consortium Agreement is a 20-year agreement, Pratt said, and that for the first, second and third years there was a $17 per student fee for expansion.
Pratt said members of the GenNET governing board, including himself, have asked GenNET to provide transparency on its spending.
“What is the GenNET expansion? There is no expansion,” Pratt said. “We’ve received nothing yet (regarding an explanation of spending). The GenNET board said the $13 per pupil is to keep the fibers lit.”
At the Aug. 26 meeting, Pratt informed the board that Clio Community Schools had completely pulled out from the GenNET Consortium and was receiving similar services, at a cheaper price, through Comcast.
Fletcher Spears, assistant superintendent for business and operations at Clio Community Schools, said the district received the lawsuit from GenNET during the middle of its Oct. 12 Board of Education meeting.
“They had a process server drop it off in the middle of the meeting. It was very unprofessional,” Spears said.
Spears said the lawsuit alleges breach of contract on Clio’s part. “We don’t believe that’s the case. We’ve attempted in numerous ways to come up with an amicable resolution, but we’ve been unable to,” he said. “We tried to come up with a reasonable exit, exercising the 90-day written notice clause in the agreement. They say we he have to pay fees, which renders out the clause.”
Spears said the board and administration referred to the lawsuit to its attorneys, and the district’s insurance company will represent the school so “we won’t have to spend additional district funds for defense.”
“This is an unfortunate juncture, and not where we want to be,” he said. “The response from the ISD has been conditions we find unacceptable.”
While Swartz Creek Community Schools is waiting on its inventory list from the ISD, Pratt admits the situation regarding Clio is unfavorable. “We’re essentially suing ourselves. It’s a helpless position,” he said.