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Superintendent Harter must go !!

Posted by xaviervir on December 9, 2015

From today’s editorial page (West County Times):

Contra Costa Times editorial: Early forensic audit findings at WCCUSD giving more cause for alarm
Contra Costa Times editorial © 2015 Bay Area News Group
POSTED: 12/08/2015 12:14:12 PM PST4 COMMENTS| UPDATED: ABOUT 15 HOURS AGO
This photo of Bruce Harter, Superintendent of Schools West Contra Costa Unified School District, was taken at Contra Costa College in San Pablo on Feb.
This photo of Bruce Harter, Superintendent of Schools West Contra Costa Unified School District, was taken at Contra Costa College in San Pablo on Feb. 25, 2010. (Staff archives)
RELATED STORIES
Mar 14:
Contra Costa Times editorial: Fire West Contra Costa school Superintendent Bruce Harter
Early findings of a forensic audit examining the West Contra Costa school district’s $1.6 billion bond construction program provide further evidence that Superintendent Bruce Harter must go.

“There appeared to be a disdain for internal controls, coming from the top, which allowed internal controls to be circumvented or overridden,” said auditor Ernie Cooper.

But West Contra Costa school trustees are instead considering granting another extension of Harter’s sweetheart contract, this time until June 30, 2019.

That’s right. Four more years of incompetent leadership. It outrageous. The best hope for replacing Harter with a fiscally responsible administrator apparently lies with the 2016 school board elections.

Harter keeps his job with the slim support of three of the five trustees. Two of his backers, Todd Groves and Randall Enos, face re-election next year and must be replaced if they insist on keeping Harter.

It’s time to end the mismanagement and hold leaders accountable for wasteful spending.

The forensic auditor’s early findings help explain why the school district with the largest construction program in the state except Los Angeles and San Diego doesn’t have enough money to finish the job.

They help explain why West Contra Costa property owners pay the highest school bond tax rates in the East Bay. Yet district officials want more.

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Harter isn’t the only culprit. Former trustee Charles Ramsey meddled where he didn’t belong, lacked fiscal discipline and financed his political campaigns with contributions from bond-program contractors.

But it was Harter who was supposed to ensure that the construction was professionally managed and insulated from political influence. Instead, he marched side by side with Ramsey, misleading the public about the costs and turning a blind eye to transgressions.

Harter was supposed to be the grown-up in the room. He’s the highly paid professional with a”‹contract that provided $354,500 in annual salary and benefits in 2014. On top of that, he’s guaranteed 18 months’ severance if he’s fired.

That’s ridiculous. After Jan. 1, state law will forbid such a lengthy buyout clause. But Harter has enjoyed it since 2006, providing him amazing job security. All the more reason he should have stood up to Ramsey and protected the integrity of the bond program.

The long-overdue forensic audit has just begun. We suspect we have seen only the beginning of the revelations. While awaiting findings, the last thing the school board should do is extend Harter’s contract.

His mismanagement has already cost the district dearly. It’s time for trustees to show him the door and move on.

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