Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

February 13, 2014

Laptop deal in question

Officials point fingers over school lease

(Continued)

The lease document was signed by Puzzanghera as well as business manager Paul Szymanski and purchasing agent Tom Watkins.

Puzzanghera disputes some of McGrath’s statement.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as an ‘error,’” he said. “We used different assumptions.”

When asked if McGrath’s version of events was correct, he refused to comment.

“I don’t want to dispute the superintendent’s recollection, so I’m not going to comment on that,” said Puzzanghera, who reports directly to McGrath and Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski as part of a combined school-town Information Technology department.

Who will pay?

Finance Committee Chairman Jon Stumpf said it was while reviewing Stapczynski’s 2015-2019 Capital Improvements Plan in November that he noticed an oddity on page 93 that listed leases for teachers’ computers.

In 2013, 200 computers were to be leased, but in fiscal 2014, the number rose to 360. He said he recalled that the leases approved by Town Meeting in 2012 were in two batches of 200 each, so he didn’t understand what the additional 160 computers were for.

“I thought it was 400,” he said. He also noticed that the funding source for the additional computers in years two through four of the lease was the general fund, not the Cable TV account, which is funded by annual payments from Comcast and Verizon. The payment was incorporated into a $93,000 line item in the town manager’s proposed CIP plan.

At a Dec. 9 Tri-Board meeting, Stumpf questioned Stapczynski about the discrepancy.

The town manager stumbled somewhat in his response, saying, “This is a change that hasn’t come back to the boards.” He said it had to do with “additional machines acquired in June.”

Selectman Brian Major pounced on the issue, saying the town had agreed that 400 computers would be purchased out of the Cable TV funds, not the general fund.

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