Education

State board considers policy changes after NC superintendent signs 'emergency contract' worth $928,000

Posted February 5, 2020 5:45 p.m. EST

— The State Board of Education is considering changes to how it approves contracts after North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson signed a $928,000 late-night contract last month without the board's knowledge.

The board reviewed a draft policy Wednesday that would require the state superintendent to get the board's approval for any contract worth $500,000 or more. Current policy requires board approval for contracts worth $1 million or more. Johnson's emergency contract was about $71,000 under that amount.

The draft policy also includes a new section about emergency contracts, saying the state superintendent must provide the state board chair with prior notice before executing an emergency contract.

Johnson and the board had a tense discussion last month about the details surrounding his late-night agreement with a company called Istation, which tests K-3 students' reading skills. Johnson said he made the emergency purchase so schools can continue using Istation while he deals with an ongoing fight over how the state's students are tested.

The board then voted unanimously to have one of its committees discuss some possible amendments or revisions to the contract policy.

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