The State Board of Education usually votes on contracts every month with one fell swoop. Next week the Board has a hefty list of 46 pages consisting of 74 individual contracts. This approval vote will spend over $69 million state and federal dollars.

Who are the winners and what new initiatives are in this “wind fall” of contracts?

Surprise, surprise, surprise, testing and assessments make the top of the list. Contracts for assistance in the testing area consist of $38,321,802. NC State alone has received six contracts this fiscal year totaling nearly $37 million, and most of their contracts involve testing. No wonder the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is sometimes called a “testing company,” (by way of NC State).

Five other state universities receive $2,602,361 consisting of 12 different contracts. During this fiscal year, the same universities received over $22 million with over 30 contracts.

The new K-3 Formative Assessment, which begins as the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA), involves 8 contracts – totaling $3,288,486. However, this is just a drop of what has been spent on this initiative since November 2013.

Interesting trivia: the ratings of 5 year olds from the KEA, creating a “Child Profile,” will eventually be placed into the P20W (Preschool – 20 grade/Higher Ed -Workforce) Data System which receives $2,053,552 this month.  This amount is divided among 5 contracts: UNC General Admissions, NC Community College System, NC Independent Colleges, NC Dept. of Commerce, and Solomons International, Inc. This company receives $80,500 to provide “project management services for the federal grant that funds the P20W Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS).” Solomons must “ensure that the project completes all grant deliverables” to the Federal Government. Wonder if the Federal Government gets access to the data? Follow imaginary NC student “Will” from 1 year old until he is 26 years old (slides 11-14). Does this feel creepy to you?

The College Board gets $1,500,000 for being part of the NC Advance Placement Partnership.   Guess the controversy over the College Board’s new Advance Placement US History Standards didn’t get our state’s attention. We are still giving this “company” money.

Various technology companies receive $2,445,909 for numerous technology services.

Last but not least, Sedgwick Claims Management will provide professional services regarding Workers’ Compensation claims for a total of $12,926,880.

The rest of the $5.9 million is stretched over exceptional children, professional development, new software, online licensing, NC Virtual Public School, and the list continues.

As one reads over these contracts it is clear Federal grants and state law often dictate where and how money is spent. However, a dollar IS a dollar, and meanwhile teachers continue to purchase basic classroom supplies. Just looking over this one-month’s contracts you have to wonder about K-12 spending priorities. You simply can’t say there is NOT ENOUGH money being spent!