Three managers lose jobs in schools Marchione promises further changes in maintenance staff

June 01, 1996|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

In the wake of a scathing audit detailing widespread violations of bidding laws and procurement policies, three managers in the Baltimore County school facilities department are being ousted, superintendent Anthony G. Marchione said yesterday.

And more changes are coming, said Marchione, who has already removed the department's executive director.

The latest moves will target Robert Klein, maintenance supervisor; William J. Moran Jr., capital projects specialist; and James F. Patton, indoor air and water quality specialist. Their annual contracts will not be renewed after expiring June 30.

Marchione would not name the officials, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters. But he said that the three positions would be eliminated as a result of problems uncovered in an internal audit released Tuesday and in the air quality debacle at Deer Park Elementary School.

Reached at home late last night, Moran said he was told only that his position was being eliminated. The conclusions of the audit, he said, were false.

"I've done nothing wrong," he said. "I've been in the construction industry for 27 years. I pride myself on my reputation. You can ask any principal, and they'll tell you I do a complete job."

In the past two years, Moran said, "we've done over $20 million worth of work in trying to straighten out an antiquated school system. And this is the reward we get."

Neither Klein nor Patton could be reached for comment.

The three managers were in charge of various phases of the Deer Park renovation and its aftermath, when air quality complaints went ignored for months and eventually led to the school's closing in March.

"This is the result of our needing to correct all of the problems we've had in facilities," Marchione said, adding that he expects to announce more changes in the next couple of weeks. "The reorganization is our plan to correct the problems we've had in the past, and we need to have the people in place who can get that job done."

Marchione said he had not decided what would happen to former facilities executive director Faith Hermann, who was tTC reassigned temporarily to the curriculum department last month. She continues to collect her $78,000-a-year salary.

New facilities chief Gene L. Neff is looking into allegations that some of the 18 employees slated to lose their jobs this month in a cost-cutting restructuring may have been targets of departmental politics, Marchione said.

One of those employees, and perhaps more, may keep their jobs, he added. Hermann identified the 18 positions to be eliminated.

The internal audit, released Tuesday, chronicled a department that ignored state bidding laws and procurement procedures designed to keep costs down and promote public confidence in the way the school board spends money.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of work was issued without competitive bidding, facilities officials misrepresented contracts to gain board approval, and contractors were paid more than once for the same work, the audit said. One facilities employee owned a company that did business with the school system, it said.

Under state law, contracts exceeding $15,000 must be advertised and competitively bid, unless issued for an emergency. But of the 51 purchase orders examined by auditors, 30 were issued without competitive bids.

Marchione "apparently concluded that these people had some responsibility for this over and above mere administrative incompetence," said school board member Robert Dashiell. "I guess I'm sort of encouraged to see that the elimination of the positions is at least in the arsenal of responses that he's prepared to make to this audit.

"I don't know if these are the right people or the only ones who should be terminated."

Hermann could not be reached for comment last night.

Klein, who makes $65,500, was hired by the school system in July 1992 as plumbing foreman and was promoted to maintenance supervisor in July 1994, according to school system records.

Klein was in charge of much of the $2.2 million renovation project at Deer Park, which exceeded the budget by $657,000 and left a faulty ventilation system, according to an internal review of the building's problems.

He pressed for the new ventilation system at Deer Park against the advice of the engineer hired to design the project, according to the engineer and school facilities employees.

Patton, who earns $60,000, has been an indoor air and water quality specialist since July 1994, according to school system records.

Moran, who earns $60,000, has been a specialist in the facilities department since March 1994, according to school system records.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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