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Old North News

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Superintendent's $928,000 move prompts BOE to review contract policies


By Angela Watson | Feb 2, 2020

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North Carolina Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson was unapologetic about his decision to sign a $928,000 contract with a vendor without consulting the State Board of Education (BOE).

Johnson made the late-night deal last month with IStation, a company that performs student reading-skills assessments.

“I have the authority to sign the contract,” he said during a tense meeting with the board the following evening, according to WRAL.  

Johnson’s action prompted the board to request one of its committees to weigh possible changes to its contract policy. The nearly million-dollar agreement allows IStation to continue to provide testing to the schools.  

The previous contract with IStation was for about $2.8 million for a year. The new contract is $928,570 for three months, ending March 31. BOE Vice Chairman Alan Duncan said at the meeting that he thought the new contract was comparatively higher.  

“I don’t think your logic is right,” Johnson responded, to which Duncan countered, “My math is right.” 

Johnson told the board he made the “emergency purchase” so testing would continue in the midst of a battle over how students are assessed. IStation tests the reading skills of students in grades K-3. 

Amplify, a competitor, lost the reading contract last year.

Board members requested that Johnson provide them with answers to seven questions regarding the contract before the board’s next meeting this month.

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