Roy was right to question GRU

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 11:55 p.m.
At the January 10th meeting, School Board member Eileen Roy explained that city-owned GRU has not given the school district a large-user discount that could result in savings exceeding $100,000 a year - tax dollars that might be better spent on students.
I understand how such a glitch might have occurred at GRU's billing department, because the district has 115 separate electricity meters. Now that the glitch has been found, maybe GRU could combine the district's bills and give the discount.
What I don't understand is why some School Board members opposed Roy's efforts to cut energy bills and inform the public about this issue.
One board member told The Sun that district staff should be "constantly" aware of whether the district is getting fair rates; but that pursuing better rates is solely a staff responsibility. That statement is troubling, because delegation of duties without follow-up supervision makes accountability unlikely.
School Board members have a duty to "supervise" how schools are run (see Florida Constitution, Article IX, Section 4(b)). Operational tasks are properly delegated to district staff; however, Board members are not prohibited from investigating how money is spent. In fact, such investigation is necessary for board members to make prudent decisions and inform the public.
At $308 million, the school district has the largest local government budget (the county's is $277 million). And taxpayers are entitled to know how their money is spent and what's being done to maximize resources.
Deborah Cupples, Gainesville

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