Thursday, January 04, 2007

Politically connected getting shady contracts? Say it isn't so.

Just who are EdBuild and what do they bring to DC's education table? Well, according to the Post, they're a new non-profit whose experience is a tad on the shallow side that are, nevertheless, being considered by our city's Board of Education for a no-bid contract. Apparently what they lack in experience they more than make up in political connections. Founder Neil O. Albert was Mayor Williams' Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth and Families and Director of Parks and Recreation. He was also tapped to work for the Fenty administration and will resign his position at EdBuild before joining the Mayor's office.
The nonprofit organization would train teachers and introduce learning strategies at Rudolph Elementary School and MacFarland Middle School, both in Northwest Washington, and at Backus Middle School in Northeast. In addition, EdBuild would manage renovation projects at Rudolph and MacFarland.

Last week, the Board of Education gave the contract preliminary approval and endorsed extending the services to other schools. The school board is expected to take up the issue again early next year after the board and EdBuild reach a more detailed agreement that includes costs.

Supporters of the contract proposal said EdBuild would provide a unique service by coordinating efforts to boost student achievement with the management of building modernization projects. The deal could save the school system time and money, they said.

But school board member William Lockridge (District 4), who supports EdBuild's efforts to improve academic performance, opposes the proposal to manage construction projects. Lockridge, the only board member to speak against the proposal, said about 65 companies with extensive construction experience have contracts to oversee modernization of about 100 city schools.

The 65 companies were hired "based on their prior experience and projects they had done in the past and their financial stability," Lockridge said. "They are large companies. They have a track record. Why was EdBuild chosen when that is not their niche?"

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