Special Master Steven Adamowski’s wild spending spree with Connecticut’s tax dollars

Since the Malloy administration gave Steven Adamowski his no-bid contract to serve as “Special Master” for Windham and New London, Adamowski has collected a salary of about $450,000 for himself and another $168,000 for his staff.  Add in over $140,000 more for health and insurance benefits, $17,000 for travel and $29,000 for equipment and it starts to become clear just how much Connecticut’s taxpayers are “investing” in Adamowski and his “management style.”

Equally troublesome is Adamowski’s free hand with the state’s check book.

According to documents collected from a series of recent Freedom of Information requests, over the past two years, Adamowski has been on a massive spending spree of public funds in his capacity as “Special Master.”

In addition to ordering local officials in Windham and New London about how they should be spending their funds, Adamowski has his own stash of state funds to play with.

Over the past two years Adamowski has spent $132,000 on engineering projects and studies with a company called Friar Associations (There was no competitive bidding conducted related to those projects).  Another engineering company, Gale Associates out of Weymouth, Massachusetts picked up another $15,250 courtesy of Adamowski.

The Center for Reform of School Systems, a consulting group out of Houston, Texas was given $39,000 in a no-bid contract to “provide 6 additional days of service for New London Special Master Grant Program.”

And the National SAM Innovation Project, a consulting operation out of the Jefferson County Public School System in Louisville, Kentucky collected $12,700 in another no-bid contract for services.

The law firm of Shipman & Goodwin received $34,000 (no-bid contract) and Adamowski dropped $12,370 on a company called Telogis for some refurbished computers, which came on top of his $29,000 equipment budget.

The organization called Leadership Greater Hartford was paid $34,000 to train Windham’s local school governance councils which is particularly ironic since Adamowski has consistently refused to include the school governance councils in key decision making, despite a Connecticut law that requires these local councils of parents, teachers and citizens to be consulted.

Another direct beneficiary of Adamowski’s spending has been CompassLearning, the Dallas based corporate entity that owns the rights to sell site licenses for the so-called Renzulli Academy.  Despite very strong opposition to Adamowski’s push to open Renzulli Gifted and Talented schools in Windham and New London, CompassLearning was paid $22,500 in public funds for Renzulli Annual Site Licenses for ALL Windham schools.

The Connecticut Science Center, the publicly funded science museum in Hartford, which was supposed to “partner” with Windham’s new STEM Magnet School, was paid more than $90,000.

And Teach for America collected a finder’s fee of at least $35,000 from Adamowski, on top of the $33,000 that Teach for America received from the Windham School System.  Wait, What? readers may recall that while TFA charges most cities $2,500 to $3,000 for each TFA recruit they place in a local school, Adamowski signed a deal with Teach for America that guaranteed them $4,000 per TFA recruit.

Add in another $72,000 for computer based “MAP Assessment testing” and tens of thousands of dollars that are simply listed as “teacher stipends” or “professional development” and we start to get a clearer picture of how the “Special Master” is spending taxpayer funds in a “special way.”

Perhaps the oddest expense of all are two checks totaling $125,000 that were written as part of Adamowski’s on-going effort to “persuade” the Town of Windham to purchase the propriety municipal finance software called MUNIS.  Adamowski has been engaged in a similar effort to force New London to choose MUNIS as their software vendor.

It all bring us back to the key question of why Connecticut’s legislators or Connecticut’s auditors haven’t stepped in to put a stop to Adamowski and his no-bid, no-rules spending spree of our scarce public funds.

  • Striking

    The cost of having a child has now gone up – dramatically.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Can anyone say KICKBACK? Soft dollar or actual cash or a little something in the favor bank…it is all the same. Too bad Corrupticut does not have a real Attorney General.

  • jrp1900

    One of the key goals of corporate school “reform” is to turn over public monies to private companies. Wherever privatization has taken hold, this has ALWAYS been the outcome. And often, the transfer of public wealth into private coffers comes with a fair degree of corruption. It’s interesting that so many deals set up by Steven Adamowski, in his capacity of Special master, involve no-bid contracts. I thought Adamowski was an advocate of the wonders of “market competition.” If it is good for schools to compete with one another, how come this principle does not apply to companies who work with Adamowski’s office? Many a public official has found himself in hot water when the legal authorities have taken a closer look at no-bid contracts. It was only yesterday that Connecticut had a governor imprisoned for shenanigans involving state contracting of business.

    I’m sure Adamowski’s activities are as clean as the driven snow. He is clearly not the sort to make deals behind the scenes to his own benefit…(Just because it walks like a duck…)

    Adamowski has counseled “austerity” for the Windham School budget. He cut the budget so drastically he went deep into the bone. The patient will scarcely survive another operation of this sort. Austerity is good for schoolchildren, but riches are good for Special Masters. Something is wrong with this picture, no?
    It breaks one’s heart to think that all the money spent by the none-too-special master might have been spent on direct education in the classroom…

    • Mary Gallucci

      How outrageous about TFA raking in the bucks. There are clauses in many TFA “M.O.U.s” that say things like, “if you ask for 20 TFA and only 17 can be placed, you still pay the finder’s fee on the others” and “even if a TFA leaves after 6 days (as happened last year in Windham), we don’t refund the finder’s fee (sucker!).”
      Meanwhile, Windham Middle School was told to cut something like $800,000 from its budget over the summer; bus services are doubled up and routes streamlined (to the extent that young children must cross major thoroughfares) in order to scrape some cost savings –while Adamowski goes on his binge for useless consultants. And let’s not forget his vaunted use of “his” money to create “special dispensations” (HIS words) for select families to have tuition to NFA–outside of the so-called lottery.
      Grrrr. Jonathan Pelto has uncovered quite a feeding frenzy of tax dollars. If Don Williams, Susan Johnson, and Malloy don’t do anything….! (But Malloy and Pryor are up to their eyebrows in these no-bid contracts and these backroom deals–silence is complicity. What do we think Pryor will do with the Education Cost Sharing money now that he has taken control of it through his Commissioner’s Network? That’s an even bigger trough for him and Adamowski to stick their snouts into).

  • elliew1234

    This is all about private for profit con artists sucking tax dollars into their own pockets. It has absolutely nothing to do with education. It is amazing how the same people are so critical of public service unions being paid to do public service. They extoll the free market and capitalism but they could not exist without those tax dollars that enrich them very well thank you

  • CTPROF

    Special Disaster is sure living up to his name…

  • Castles Burning

    Reminds me of the good old days when you were writing about Vallas’ spending sprees and no-bid contracts. Two peas in a pod? Neither certified to serve as a superintendent but chosen for all of the reasons listed below.

    • Castles Burning

      and above. ( I forgot where my message might fall!)

  • Charlie Puffers

    Just fire the bum, Pryor and fire yourself while you’re at it. Malloy don’t bother running again unless you’re running far far from here.