Board votes to cut district’s purchasing power by half

By LOUIE DIAZ
editor@sbnewspaper.com

The San Benito CISD school board voted to cut the district’s purchasing power from $50,000 to $25,000 during a regular school board meeting on May 18. This means the board will now have to approve purchase orders over $25,000.
During the discussion, SBCISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman explained that most other 6-A school districts in the area—Brownsville ISD, Los Fresnos ISD, Harlingen CISD, and Donna ISD—have a $50,000 spending cap.
“I believe in the area, it would make us the only 6-A district to have a $25,000 instead of a $50,000 [limit],” Carman said.
He also mentioned that the cap has been at $50,000 even before he took his seat as superintendent.
Trustee Orlando Lopez contended that the board should keep the spending cap at $50,000 to not interfere with day-to-day operations.
“In my opinion, if we were struggling financially, then I think it would be something to look at, but we’re not.” Orlando Lopez said. “Just to affect the day-to-day operations is kind of absurd.”
Leaders from different departments that regularly spend more than $25,000 came before the board to explain why they believed the purchasing limit should stay at $50,000.
Robert Perez, the district’s director of maintenance, said that the reduction of the spending cap could become a potential safety issue if the cap limits him from purchasing cleaning and safety products to stave off COVID.
“From a safety perspective, I think it’s prudent—for us—to keep it at the $50,000 level,” Robert Perez said.
Fred Perez, the Director of Federal Programs, believes that adding more steps will slow down the process and make it harder for him to spend federal monies.
“With a district this size and the amount of federal funds that we are awarded from the government, it makes it very difficult for us to spend when we throw another step into having to approve POs, (purchase orders)” he said, alluding to district department heads having to obtain board approval for purchases over $25,000.
Aracely Soto, the child nutrition director, said that her department places orders on a weekly basis. Soto also explained that storage of items could pose a problem due to limited space. Having to order products two to three weeks in advance could be a problem.
Board President Ramiro Moreno and vice-president Janie Lopez believe that careful planning could prevent having to go through more purchase orders.

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