CSCOPE: How Much Have Taxpayers Paid?

Feb 20, 2013 by

con artistBy Donna Garner

Kudos to Tom Fabry, David St. Martin, Ginger Russell, Mary Bowen, Alice Linahan, Stan Hartzler, Ms. Mac, Colleen Vera, Janice Van Cleave, John Griffing, Peggy Venable, and all of the many other people who have helped to track down the financial information on CSCOPE.

Statement from Tom Fabry:

These two areas alone — $13 Million for CSCOPE and $30 Million for TASA/TASB  — add up to more than $43 Million tax dollarsall going [each year] to unelected organizations outside the control of the SBOE.

Many of these are the same Texas school districts that have filed a lawsuit to force the Texas Legislature to give them more of our tax dollars.

I have attached two documents – (1) CSCOPE DISTRICTS BY REGION_9-25-12 and (2) CSCOPE Revenues. (If you want a copy of the Public Information Reports from 19 of the 20 Education Service Centers, please contact me offline; and I will be glad to send you the attachments.)

Even though the Education Service Centers have submitted their reports to show us how much school districts have spent on CSCOPE, we still question the validity of the totals. According to the Odessa news media, Ector County ISD spent $1.7 Million on CSCOPE this school year (OAOnline http://www.oaoa.com/news/education/ecisd/article_98bbdf11-f50c-5370-9773-b39a999191f4.html?mode=jqm ).  Texas has 1,265 school districts, and 70% to 85% are said to be using CSCOPE.  That would be between 886 to 1,075 school districts.  Common sense would tell us  that the $13 Million total figure turned in by the ESC’s is a vastly “understated” amount.

I also am concerned about Mason Moses who has provided us with the ESC/CSCOPE school expenditure information.  He works for the Texas System of Education Service Centers. I do not know Mason Moses, but I do know his father and his reputation.

Mike Moses and the Ratliff clan (Bill Ratliff, Thomas Ratliff, etc.) have made a living off the “education golden goose,” and knowing the reputation of Mason Moses’ father does not give me a great deal of trust in the reports provided by Mason.

The following information came from The Dallas Morning News during the time that Mike Moses was the superintendent of Dallas ISD:

Allegations surfaced about out-of-control spending with school credit cards, lost dollars for health plans, abuse of federal e-rate funds, irregular technology vendor contracts, misspent federal bilingual education funds, costly deals with Kinko’s, apparent conflicts of interest involving Voyager Expanded Learning, contributions by computer vendors, questionable bond sales, multiple teacher grievances, eyebrow-raising private consultancies, lucrative Coca-Cola contracts, and special privileges for vendors participating in the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) conferences.  

Meanwhile, Moses received the highest superintendent’s salary in the nation ($340,000 per year, excluding benefits) even though eleven school districts in the country were larger than Dallas ISD.

When the DISD problems began to surface in 2004, Moses resigned and walked away with an additional $480,850.  Along with his ongoing and lucrative superintendent search business, he now receives a yearly TRS pension of $224,400 per year.  Note that Moses’ wealth comes from taxpayers’ dollars.

Here is Tom Fabry’s e-mail sent to various Texas Senators followed by the response from Mason Moses to Ginger Russell’s Public Information Request:

From: Tom Fabry [mailto:tcfabry@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 5:58 PM
Subject: CSCOPE Financial Summary

TO:          Sen Ken Paxton

Sen Jane Nelson

Sen Dan Patrick

Rep Scott Turner

Rep Pat Fallon

Rep Steve Toth

SBOE Chairman Barbara Cargill

SBOE Rep Geraldine Miller

SBOE Rep Sue Melton

Subject:  CSCOPE Payments from ISDs

There has been much public discussion and recent Senate testimony given regarding the quality, substance, inefficiencies, philosophy and other aspects of CSCOPE.  One critical metric that has not been brought into focus is the amount of taxpayer dollars being funneled from the ISDs and charters to CSCOPE.

To shed light on this financial issue, Ms. Ginger Russell submitted a Public Information Request (PIR) for documentation on the revenues that were paid to each of the twenty ESCs for the current school cycle.   On January 16, 2013, Mr. Mason Moses, Education Service Center (ESC) Region 13, responded (his reports are enclosed).   Unfortunately, each ESC region provided the data in varying formats, so it took a significant effort to parse the reports and assemble a summary.  But we now have a starting picture.

The various ISDs paid well over $13,000,000 to CSCOPE for the current school year.  This is a recurring annual fee.  This amount is the per student license fees ONLY.  It does not include other teacher related expenses such as training, travel, copying, and so forth.  Moreover, it does not contain any of the additional taxpayer funded amounts paid to Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), parts of which go for school administrators and Board of Trustee members to attend conferences in which CSCOPE training is conducted, at which additional ISDs are marketed and where public relations strategies are presented.   Finally it does not include any funding the Texas Legislature appropriates each year for operation of the ESCs which act as the sales, marketing and collection agent for the CSCOPE operations under TESCCC.

How much do all these other “revenue” sources contribute to the ESC/TESCCC/CSCOPE organizations?  That question absolutely needs to be answered.  But here’s one example of taxpayer funding of the TASA and TASB.  A PIR submitted to the Coppell ISD reveals that for the 2011-2013 school year and for the 2012-2013 year to date, they have paid over $111,000 to these two associations.  That’s an average of $75,000 per year for the lone Coppell ISD.  And there are 1,228 ISDs in Texas.

Being conservative, at just a third of Coppell ISD’s payments, the 1,228 ISDs would be  sending well over $30,000,000 taxpayer dollars to these two associations [TASA and TASB].

These two areas alone [$13 Million for CSCOPE and $30 Million for TASA/TASB] $43,000,000 tax dollarsall going [each year] to unelected organizations outside the control of the SBOE.   And these are just the first two areas we’ve been able to look at.

As the elected representatives from the Frisco area districts and leaders in the legislature on the issue of CSCOPE, I am petitioning you to direct the Texas Attorney General to conduct an audit of (a) the funds appropriated by the legislature, (b) the funds paid by the various ISDs and (c) any monies transferred between, the ESC’s, TESCCC, NEC, 3rd L Corporation, TASA, TASB and/or any other entities connected with CSCOPE that such an audit might uncover.

Respectfully,

Tom Fabry
Treasurer, Frisco Tea Party
4992 Iroquois Drive
Frisco, TX 75034
H:  214-387-0051
C:  817-721-6701

CC:          Ms. Ginger Russell

Ms. Jeanine McGregor (Ms. Mac)

Ms. Donna Garner

Mr. David St. Martin

Ms. Peggy Venable

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Mason Moses <Mason.Moses@esc13.txed.net>
To: gingerdr@sbcglobal.net
Sent: Wed, January 16, 2013 2:03:31 PM
Subject: Public Information Request

** High Priority **

Mrs. Russell,

The attached documents have been found responsive to your request under the Public Information Act. In your request, you included the following items:

1. List of all school districts that have purchase CSCOPE
2. Funds paid to ESC for CSCOPE
3. List broken down according to ESCs of which school districts have purchased CSCOPE
4. What those districts paid each ESC

Attachment 1 is the most up-to-date list of school districts that have purchased CSCOPE. Next to each district is the ESC region number from whom they have purchased to program. This attachment should meet items 1 and 3 in your request.

Attachments 2-20 consist of your request for what each district has paid an ESC for CSCOPE. Under the Texas Public Information Act, we are not required to create any new documentation; therefore each ESC did respond differently. Some had a list available, others provide invoices, or other documentation. If there is any question regarding any of these, please feel free to contact me and I will work with the ESC to clarify any information.  These documents should also meet items 2, 4, and expand on item 3 of your request. Should you have future questions regarding this, I also encourage you to visit each ESC website. On there you should be able to locate a link to each ESCs check registrar; which has this information publicly posted.

If you feel that these documents do not meet your request, please alert me and we will work to quickly get you the information that you desire. Should you have future request, I encourage you to contact me via email so a response can be produced in a more timely manner. We sincerely appreciate your patience as we processed your request. The Christmas break did cause a slight delay, but if there are any future request we do not anticipate a response taking this long.

If you would please email me alerting me that you received this information, it would be most appreciated. Thank you for taking an interest in ESCs.

Sincerely,

Mason Moses
Public Information Officer
Texas System of Education Service Centers
Office: 512-919-5349
Fax: 512-919-5232

 

Donna Garner
Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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