The New Albany-Plain Local School District has spent more than $385,000 on professional and technical services since Jan. 1, 2008.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District has spent more than $385,000 on professional and technical services since Jan. 1, 2008.

On Feb. 27, ThisWeek submitted a public-records request to the district. Some of those records were made available March 20.

The school district has spent $192,987.53 on professional services since July 1, 2008, according to district treasurer Brian Ramsay.

According to the records, the district-employed contractors include Bill Resch as a science education consultant, Joel Gagne with Avakian Consulting for community outreach and public relations and Kathleen Peirce with Peirce Internet for Web services.

Although the school board approved all three contracts, the district treasurer or a designee, such as the superintendent, has the authority to award a contract without board approval for "any single item or group of identical items costing less than $25,000," according to district policies.

For items less than $25,000, the district is not required to seek bids, nor is board pre-approval needed.

Gagne, who signed a contract with the school district Feb. 26, 2008, was paid $60,000 for services from Feb. 14, 2008, to Feb. 19, 2009, to "coordinate the district's survey research by working with administrators, board of education, staff and survey firm to maximize quality of survey process," according to a contract signed by Gagne, Ramsay and Superintendent Steve Castle.

Gagne's contract also states that he would "work with community relations staff to evaluate present outreach efforts, coalition build with community, staff and other organizations, assist in development of new and updated outreach vehicles for the community and development of targeted mailings, meeting the interest of individual segments within the New Albany-Plain Local School District."

Gagne also was paid $16,000 in two installments -- one on Feb. 8, 2008, and another on May 8, 2008 -- to facilitate a 60-person finance committee that met prior to the November levy, which voters approved.

In addition to Gagne's payments for facilitating the finance committee, the district spent $2,450 for people to take meeting minutes and provide other services.

According to documents provided by the district, the contract with Avakian was terminated Feb. 13, 2009, and Gagne will end services with the district March 31, 2009.

The document states, "Together, AC (Avakian Consulting) and New Albany-Plain Local School District enjoyed tremendous success during this last year, including the successful passage of the 24.4-mill continuing operating levy. The scope of the work which was described in the beginning and during the negotiation phase has changed and the services we agreed to provide to New Albany-Plain Local Schools are no longer needed."

Jeff Warner, district communications director, said Gagne's contract was terminated because the district no longer has a need for Avakian's services.

"We began the contract while we were between communications directors," Warner said. "Now with me being here and looking at what our real needs are for the future, we just didn't feel it was the best use of our resources at this time."

Carole Dorn-Bell was hired in April 2008, making $88,000 annually plus benefits. She resigned effective Jan. 26.

Warner was hired Feb. 9 and began working March 2, making $89,500 plus benefits.

School board members renewed a contract with Resch during their June 23, 2008, meeting for the period from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

For this school year, Resch is being paid $48.50 per hour for a maximum of 1,400 hours, according to the appendix of the June 23, 2008, school board meeting at which his contract was renewed. He could be paid as much as $67,900 for consulting services this school year.

Resch is making $1.23 more per hour this year than he made during the 2005-06 school year.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, Resch has been paid about $42,000 for consulting services.

The school board approved a contract for Kathleen Peirce, with Peirce Internet, on Dec. 15, 2008, for the period ending June 30, 2009. According to an e-mail from Dorn-Bell to Judy Floit, who works in accounts-payable for the district, "We don't have a contract per se" for Peirce.

According to the board's agenda appendix, Peirce should not make more than $17,510 for her "webmaster" services, which, Warner said, include overhauling the district's Web site.

In January 2009, Peirce was paid $178 for a little more than four hours of service.

A January invoice from Peirce Internet to the district shows that Peirce is paid $42 per hour, though there is no official contract in place showing how the hourly rate was decided, according to Warner.

An invoice dated March 3 shows Peirce was paid $892.50 for her work in February, though ThisWeek had not been provided with a copy of the February invoice as of press time Tuesday.