Posts Tagged ‘contract process in schools’

It’s Smart Business to Establish a Contract Process in Schools

Posted on: April 10th, 2014

by Debra Golymbieski, Partner

LaptopHandsImplement a contract process? Yeah, right! Contracts are boring and time consuming and schools are understaffed as it is. “We’ll just keep squeaking by as we have been and hope that the contractor performs, we don’t get sued and no one gets hurt.” Sound familiar?

Why does your public or private school need a contract process? Whether you are a public school system, a charter school or a private non-profit school, chances are that you are audited annually. Having a good contract process in place will go a long way in assisting your staff to respond to auditor requests and may help your organization avoid audit findings. Not to mention, a good contract process will help you monitor expenditures and will protect the school from liability when necessary.

What are some areas that are typically addressed in a contract process?

  • Identifying the person in your organization who is primarily responsible for shepherding the contract through the process at all stages. This establishes a sense of “ownership” in the contractual relationship that is sometimes lacking in organizations.
  • Monitoring any public bidding requirements.
  • Identifying with specificity the contractor, including all contact information.
  • Clearly establishing the purpose of the contract.
  • Establishing the cost of the contract.
  • Obtaining any state required attachments or approvals.
  • Determining whether the contractor requires a criminal background check because they will be working with children.
  • Creating templates that can be used often.
  • Legal review will be provided for.
  • Ascertaining how much contract administration/oversight is needed for the contract. Will this contract be performed in a very short time or will the contract have a longer term that will require oversight from your organization’s identified contract administrator?
  • If the contract requires oversight, milestones, responsibilities and deliverables will be clearly mapped out as well as key dates and meetings will be scheduled with the contractor as needed.
  • Your organization’s key responsibilities under the contract will be clearly identified.
  • Invoicing procedures will be addressed and monitored.
  • Contract closeout procedures will be addressed.
  • Last but not least, a record retention process for all of the school’s contracts will be established, whether there is a centralized location for retention or a decentralized method (if dealing with a multi-site system or school).

Educators don’t typically like to deal with contracts, and sometimes a significant culture change within the organization and much education is required. However, an investment in establishing a good contract process on the front end could save an organization a great deal of trouble later on.

The purpose of this blog is to provide information. It is neither legal advice nor is it an advertisement for legal services.  Please consult your legal counsel for legal advice regarding contracts.