By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
The San Benito CISD Board of Trustees held a special meeting on Wednesday, April 30, in which the $315,000 lien imposed by the Internal Revenue Service on ISD Manage Care Services was addressed as well as a multi-million dollar energy conservation project was proposed.
A brief ceremony was held in which Angela G. Leal Elementary Principal Manuel Cruz was recognized for being named TCTA (Texas Classroom Teachers Association) Administrator of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. A retirement reception was also held for Celeste Sanchez, who has served as the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction since 1998.
Following a brief reception, the board reconvened and discussed what may amount to a multi-million dollar contract with Entegral Solutions to provide energy conservation. Entegral representatives were on-hand for the meeting, including Bill Savarino, South Texas Business Development Manager, who led a presentation on the Energy Efficiency Facility Improvement Project.
Savarino said that the project will improve “the learning environment by replacing the needed infrastructure while addressing the financial constraints of SBCISD and their taxpayers.” According to Savarino, the project is estimated to provide the district with $3.6 million in total net savings over 15 years.
Entegral Solutions is currently partnered with TASB (Texas Association of School Boards), but the partnership expires in approximately three years, an issue that did not sit well with some members of the board.
“This is a 15-year project and you are partners with TASB; do you have a guaranteed 15-year contract with TASB?” asked trustee Anna Cruz. Savarino explained it was actually a three-year contract.
“What’s going to happen after three years?” asked Cruz. “After three years, we’re going to have to work directly with you and not TASB?”
Savarino confirmed that there is no guarantee that the partnership with TASB will still be in existence in 15 years, an issue Cruz said concerns her.
Following the presentation, the trustees agreed to table any action on the item until a later date in order for the board to gain a better understanding of the information provided to them by Savarino and Entegral Solutions. It was then that Board Secretary June Aguilera made the recommendation that a workshop be scheduled for Friday, May 9 to discuss the project, an idea that was met with confusion among other board members in regards to the date’s proximity to Election Day on May 10.
As of deadline, a date has not been set. The project, however, may cost the district anywhere from $4 million to nearly $10 million, according to district officials. Joe Montes, coordinator for the SBCISD Construction and Energy Department, said the district can complete the project in-house for $1.5 million.
Another item discussed during the meeting was the controversy surrounding the school district’s embattled on-site health clinic provider, ISD Manage Care Services and the $315,000 lien placed on the district by the Internal Revenue Service.
ISD Manage Care Services owner Richard Garza was present during the meeting in which questions were raised about his company’s financial stability. Garza explained that he had already resolved the IRS lien, but board members still questioned the validity of those claims, mainly due to a lack of proof.
“This letter that we received, the release of levy, it is just statements,” said Board President Yliana Gonzalez in response to a release of levy notification received by the district on Wednesday. “It doesn’t have proof of whether it was paid with a check or money order. Have you produced a copy of the check that was sent out or how the transaction was paid? Have you produced a copy of that document to prove to the administration that it was handled and it was dated on a certain day?”
Garza attempted to make a case for his lack of proof, citing miscommunication.
“I was advised to give an update on Tuesday at noon,” Garza said. “My update on Tuesday at noon was that the district was going to receive a letter this week for a lift of the levy. That was my update, and that’s what occurred.”
Garza later said, “It will never happen again. Not only will it never happen again, we’re going to be providing documents that have been requested by the administration to show, on a current basis, that we’re fine and everything is going as planned. ISD Manage Care is up to date on everything.”
But Cruz was not convinced, stating, “We shouldn’t be dealing with the IRS. That’s not our business.”
A motion was made by trustee Oscar Medrano to provide ISD Care Services with a 60-day written termination notice, which was met with unanimous approval from the rest of the board. The next item on the agenda, to authorize the administration to request proposals for the on-site primary care health clinic was also approved unanimously.