By Ken Epstein
The Oakland Unified School District administration bypassed Board of Education approval in order to pay Lance Jackson $30,000 a month to oversee the district’s multimillion dollar construction program, the Oakland Post has learned.
While the district is conducting a search for a new person to head the work, Jackson is overseeing OUSD’s construction programs and repairs, maintenance and custodial services.
Uncertain that the Board of Education would be willing to vote for the $30,000 a month interim contract for Jackson, the administration has decided to pull the contract and instead to pay the consultant out of the ongoing contract the district has with Jackson’s company, Seville Group Inc.
Jackson is Chief Operating Officer of Seville, a construction management firm that provides oversight of OUSD construction projects.
The Post recently reported that Jackson was hired for the interim position at a rate of $360,000 a year – more than double the $156,000 a year received by former chief of construction management Tim White. Jackson’s annual salary is higher than the $280,000 annual salary that Supt. Antwan Wilson receives.
Passed by the board under Acting Supt. Gary Yee, the district’s $10.9 million contract with Seville was approved to provide program management services for Measure B and Measure J and capital projects on behalf of the district in the Division of Facilities Planning and Management.
The term of the contract commenced on Aug. 14, 2013 and concludes by Dec. 31, 2015. Seville received $4 million from the district in 2014.
Raising questions on the details of the agreement with Jackson, the Oakland Post asked the district administration what will happen to the Seville staff working in the district and the work they were doing when that money is transferred to cover Mr. Jackson’s pay.
In response, district spokesman Troy Flint said, “When working on large projects of the kind SGI (Seville) handles for OUSD, there’s flexibility to adjust, in fact, it’s a necessity. Lance’s contract is not going to impact the work delivered or the manner in which it’s delivered as, relative to our agreement with SGI, it’s a small piece of the pie.”
In response to the question whether the agreement with Seville allows for the company to head up the facilities department, Flint said, “There’s not explicit wording in the contract to cover this specific circumstance, but the general language of the contract indicates that decisions can be made as needed to facilitate SGI’s successful management of the projects under its scope–and this falls under that consideration.”
The Post also emailed several questions to Jacqueline Minor, head of OUSD’s Legal Department.
“Can you please tell (the Post) what is your legal rational for your decision“ when Minor approved or advised the administration to pull that contract and to instead pay Mr. Jackson from the district’s ongoing contract with SGI?”
In addition, the Post asked: “How do you respond to the public perception that the decision appears to be a way to circumvent the decision-making power of the governing board?”
Minor did not respond.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, April 3, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)