School choice survey will cost you more money
Board member: "I feel like I'm being held for ransom"
Board member says survey company's request for more money feels like "ransom." Video by fox4now.comvideo
FORT MYERS - A survey designed to get your input on school choice is going to cost even more of your tax dollars.
"I feel like I'm kind of being held for ransom," said Lee County school board member Don Armstrong.
School board members are lashing out the company that designed the survey, Texas-based Gibson Consulting, for demanding thousands more to analyze responses to the survey's open-ended questions on parental involvement.
The survey, which was sent out in February, was designed to get community input on everything from school choice to how well the district's doing.
The district approved a contract with Gibson last year to design and administer the survey at a cost "not to exceed $112,754."
But it will now cost taxpayers more than $118,000.
That's because Gibson originally agreed to analyze 1000 open-ended responses, according to Superintendent Joseph Burke, but ended up getting more than 9000 responses.
To analyze that, Gibson asked for an extra $10,000, according to Armstrong. He says the district talked them down to just under $6000.
"I feel Gibson is nickel-and-diming us to death," said Armstrong. "I believe that they have not performed the duties that they said they were going to and I don't think they should have any more money."
At Tuesday's board meeting Burke recommended the board approve the additional cost. With the exception of Armstrong, the board voted to give Gibson the extra cash - but made it clear they weren't happy.
"While it's only $5914 dollars in addition to what the contract already was," said board member Jeanne Dozier, "a contract is a contract is a contract is a contract."
"I do not like supporting this company," Dozier continued, "because I feel like basically they are breaching a contract."
"I don't like it," echoed board member Tom Scott. "But I will support it."
Burke says the extra money is worth it because it will give the district a more complete picture and make sure every voice is heard.
"I can tell you this much," Armstrong told Fox 4, "Gibson better never come to us [again]. I'll never support them for anything."
Fox 4 left a message with Gibson Consulting after hours. We will continue to reach out to them to get their side.