Boston Public Schools, despite previously promising it would use only private foundation money, spent $50,000 from its own funds to help pay for the search for a new superintendent. The school committee is scheduled to vote on its choice Wednesday.

The total amount allocated for the search was $75,000. The Shah Family Foundation, which funds a healthy school lunch initiative in Boston, donated $25,000 to cover travel and meal costs for the three candidates. The district's contribution of $50,000 covered all of the cost of the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, which is based in Boston.

“The School Committee initially intended to fund the superintendent search exclusively through private funds, but ultimately opted not to proceed in that manner due to public feedback,” said district spokesperson Dan O’Brien in an email.

Parents and community members have expressed concerns that private foundations paying the search firm could influence the choice of a new superintendent.

At school committee meetings, some members of the public pointed to private foundations that promote the expansion of charter schools and might try to sway the committee toward a pro-school choice superintendent.

The Shah Family Foundation has provided grants to at least one organization that supports charter expansion.

In contrast to the $75,000 raised for this year’s search, the district raised a total of $125,000 for the last search in 2014-2015, all of which came from philanthropies.

The Lynch Foundation donated $50,000, the Barr Foundation $50,000 and the Boston Foundation $25,000 for that search. All three organizations fund initiatives that benefit charter schools.

Boston Public Schools' original explanation for forgoing a public bid for the search firm contract was that “the cost of this superintendent search, including the services of an executive search consultant will be privately funded through foundation support,” according to the request for qualifications from search firms.

Once it decided to use public funds, Boston Public Schools did not have to go through a normal public bid. Only contracts that use more than $50,000 in public funds must go through that process.

The 2014-15 search firm’s fees and expenses totaled just under $78,000, significantly more than the $50,000 spent this year for that purpose.

The district declined to answer questions about why this year’s search costs less than the previous one, and declined to answer a question about when it knew it would be using some public funds.

When the district began its search process last September, School Committee Chair Michael Loconto had already begun looking for philanthropies to contribute to the cost of the search.

“Consistent with the 2014 search, several local and regional foundations are considering or have tentatively agreed to provide funding for the costs associated with this search process to ensure that public funds are focused on BPS schools,” he wrote in a memo.

In the end, Boston Public Schools did privately solicit bids from six firms before choosing Issacson, Miller, according to O'Brien.

“The public bidding law ... allows public entities to provide contracts to businesses without issuing a ‘Request for Proposal’ if the cost of services is $50,000 or less and the entity solicits quotes from at least three vendors,” O’Brien wrote in a statement.

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