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Meier Cancels Shared Services Contract With Ferndale Schools

The three-year contract brought in $498,130 of revenue for the district in exchange for clerical, technology and financial services.

Ferndale Schools Superintendent Gary Meier confirmed Monday that he will cancel the contract between his consulting firm Innovative Consulting in Education (ICE) and the Ferndale Public Schools.

Speaking as the CEO of ICE, Meier said in a phone interview that the decision to cancel the contract - which had recently become a topic of discussion in the community - was a business decision.

"It was a business decision of Innovative Consulting and the agreement that exists between the two parties allows for termination of the agreement for any reason," he said.

The three-year contract between ICE and the school district was approved by the school board in July 2011 and was set to run through the end of June 2014, bringing in $498,130 of revenue for Ferndale Schools in exchange for use of district clerical, technology and financial services.

The contract has generated questions from political action committee CLEAR and was a topic of discussion in the recent school board election.

The Ferndale One-Fifteen News published an in-depth article about the contract on Nov. 3, including a link to the actual contract and comments from current school board members.

Recent discussion of the contract contributed to the decision to cancel but was not necessarily the only factor, Meier said.

"I wouldn't argue that the conversation that was occurring about it was not helpful to the company and I think from a practical standpoint ... we want to stop that conversation and I think the only way to stop it is only by virtue of terminating the agreement."

Concerns over the contract hadn't affected the company at this point, he said, but "we just don't want it to affect the company."

"Certainly the credibility of the company and the work that it's doing is important and we don't want that credibility to be questioned," he said. "The contract was entered into in good faith with the Board of Education ... and for whatever reason it became a topic of conversation and I think at this particular point the company is simply not interested in that continuing."

Meier said ICE will continue its consulting work, which includes working with public and private schools on improving the quality of school culture, teaching and learning.

"What we were doing with Ferndale was buying services, and we will just be purchasing those services elsewhere," he said.

His individual employment contract still allows for outside consulting, he said, including his work with ICE.

As for when exactly notice was given to cancel the contract, Meier said a 90-day notice is required and was given, bringing the contract to a close around the end of 2012.

"That's part of the public discourse that's occurring right now," he said of the issue of when the notice was given. "I'm having the attorney for the business deal with all those issues. The notice was given, hand delivered to the president of the board."

Speaking as superintendent for the district, Meier said he has always believed the contract with ICE was "a reasonable example of shared services" but at this point there is the question of, "Is all that discourse healthy for the district?" he said.

Meier also said there needs to be a clear distinction made between his work as superintendent and his role with ICE.

"My position all along would be that it was unfortunate that people were speaking about it in the context of the superintendent and not the business relationship," he said.

Ferndale_1986 November 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Sounds like he took his ball and went home. Good riddance.
Brian Smith November 14, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Like I said, either follow the money or someone hates somebody...this appears to be a hybrid....Meier is toast...leftists hate to be upstaged...
Linda Baker November 14, 2012 at 04:24 AM
if this truly benefits the district there should be no problem proving it to the new board members and anyone else questioning ICE - why run away if you aren't guilty of anything?
Judy Bethuy November 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I don't think anyone is running away from anything. It's more like this contract is a distraction to the core business of the district and not worth the fight.
Cathy Greer November 16, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Wow...fraud, leftist, vindictive, unethical...good riddance??? What happened to good old fashion respect and decency? There is certainly nothing wrong with asking questions, but turning it into an attack because you don't get the answers you expect is sad and let's just keep adding fuel to the fire because that is the very best way to resolve the issues that have come up during this election. Are we now teaching our children by our actions that you can be as rude as you like no matter what?

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