Allen Gwinn's taken a sneak peek at the Dallas Independent School District board of trustees' briefing agenda for Thursday, and one item in particular struck him as ... well, interesting. Which is: Ratification of Authority to Execute Master Lease Agreement with Dell, Inc. for Sixty Months and Provide for Subsequent End-of-Life Leases (Not to Exceed $80,000,000 Over 5-Years). Wish we could tell you more about it, but as Allen points out, it's but a single sheet of paper containing no info whatsoever -- except the name Patricia Viramontes, who's the district's executive director of information and technology services. We called her for specifics this afternoon, but instead got administrative assistant Constance Martin's voice mail wishing us "a blessed day." (Thanks, but you're too late, Constance.) Allen can tell you why Viramontes's name might sound familiar.
Allen has a very good question: Does giving $5 million in grants to the DISD get you $80 million in business? He's yet to get an answer from DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander concerning the specifics of the deal; Dahlander likewise told Unfair Park moments ago he didn't have any further info yet from district higher-ups but is working like Dell to track it down.
Update at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday: Dahlander responds with this explanation:
The initial board document submitted on this agenda item should not have included a dollar figure. No additional funding is needed. The ratification of this agenda item will not extend the initial three year price agreement with Dell initially approved by the board in September 2008 but will extend the lifespan of leasing individual computers from three to five years. Board members will be briefed on the issue tomorrow and a corrected board document will be submitted for ratification prior to the regular meeting on April 23.
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Some more questions to and answers from the DISD spokeman follow.
Upon receipt of his response, I asked Dahlander, "How many computers does the district lease from Dell? Because for that kinda dough, it oughta be a lot." To which he responded:
Again, there should not have been a dollar figure with this board doc. This only extends the life of leased computers from 3 to 5 years. The initial price agreement was for up to (and those are two key words because it often never reaches that amount) $43 million.
And, yes, the district leases a LOT of computers for our 250 facilities, 21,000 employees and 157,000 students.
I'll see if I can round up a figure. One of our previous agreements was apparently with HP.
Then I asked Dahlander where the $80 million figure came from. Because maybe it wasn't supposed to be there, but there it was nonetheless. Truth is, he says, he just isn't sure.