To get a sense of perspective, imagine walking into a car dealership, and spending $35,000 for a brand-new, supposedly top-of-the-line car. Then imagine spending $42,000 on top of that in mechanic’s fees just to get the vehicle to drive properly. Chances are, you’d be talking to your attorney, right? But the LAUSD says there’s no need to sue Deloitte Consulting, the high-priced firm it paid handsomely to roll out a functional and accurate payroll system – and which never did. Somehow, district bureaucrats seem to be at peace with this incredible failure. By most accounts, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s woeful payment system has been a disaster. But, really, it all just depends on your point of view. In some ways, the $95million system has been an unalloyed success. At least for consultants, anyway. Even though the payroll system has underpaid and overpaid thousands of teachers by tens of millions of dollars, it has paid consultants fabulously and right on time. Indeed, certain “experts” in the region scarcely could do better if the malfunctioning machines did nothing but print out $1,000 bills for their personal use. L.A. school board members now warn that the total cost of implementing the system – which has included hiring armies of consultants – could top $210million. That’s more than double the original price tag, with “fixes” costing $115million alone. And, somehow, they don’t seem to mind spending a fortune on all the consultants, one after the next, who can’t seem to put the LAUSD’s Humpty Dumpty back together again. “I keep questioning all of these costs,” says new school board member Tamar Galatzan. “I’ve never seen a plan that included all of the consultants, all of the costs, who’s responsible for what, where the money’s coming from, how long it’s going to take. “Nothing exists that resembles a transparent, cohesive plan.” Unchecked costs. No plan. No transparency. Sound familiar? In all likelihood, this scandal is nothing more than one of incompetence. But given the LAUSD’s history of questionable contracting, it’s hard not to get conspiratorial-minded about a botched scheme that has benefited no one except for the people paid large sums of money paid to fix it. Think about the costs – $115million wasted. For a district that recently started charging kids to use its athletic facilities so it could save a piddly $3.8million, that’s a lot of money that could be doing a lot of good to educate children. Richard Vladovic, the school board member representing District 7, has rightly called for a thorough audit of exactly how much has been spent, what’s gone wrong, and why. “It’s bigger than we all believe. We need to look at it totally. I want an accounting of everything – every nook and cranny,” Vladovic says. Vladovic predicts that “when all of this is over” – soon, we hope – “there’s going to be a Judgment Day.” There had better be.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!