Education

Manatee’s deputy superintendent is retiring. He was on leave pending an investigation

Revamp of software needs more time, money

Ron Ciranna, deputy superintendent for operations for the School District of Manatee County, said an overhaul of the system's software system will require additional time and money.
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Ron Ciranna, deputy superintendent for operations for the School District of Manatee County, said an overhaul of the system's software system will require additional time and money.

Less than two months after he was placed on paid administrative leave, Deputy Superintendent Ron Ciranna is retiring from the School District of Manatee County.

Ciranna led the Division of Business Services and Operations, a massive role that includes oversight of human resources, information technology, construction, food services and transportation. The district is investigating his role in a software project that doubled in cost and scope before it launched in July — still riddled with problems.

His retirement is effective Dec. 3, though it’s still pending board approval, according to the school board agenda for Oct. 9. Ciranna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Doug Wagner, the executive director of adult, career and technical education is also serving as the new deputy superintendent of operations. Though Superintendent Cynthia Saunders previously said Wagner was serving on an interim basis, it’s unclear whether his commitment will change with Ciranna’s departure.

The district’s investigation into its former deputy superintendent is focused on “payments and scope of work related to the ERP process that may not have gone through proper authorization,” according to a past statement by Scott Hopes, the school board chairman.

An outside review, commissioned by the superintendent, found at least $107,000 in money that was spent without board authorization. It seems questionable purchases were not uncommon during the project.

“In addition, the project team continues to learn of new interfaces and software programs being purchased by the District that were not vetted through the project team prior to the decision for purchase,” according to an internal audit published in July 2017.

Two other employees are on paid administrative leave in connection with the project: Rob Malloy, the district’s chief information technology officer; and Angie Oxley, the ERP project manager.

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Their suspension is pending a review of “information that was perhaps not made readily available to the internal auditor and the audit committee” during the software implementation.

The software was meant to replace a business management system in place since 1999, replacing a paper-based process with a streamlined method of paying salaries, ordering supplies and hiring employees.

Its expected cost spiked from less than $10 million to more than $20 million by the time it went live on July 1.

District officials are still negotiating with the software vendor, Ciber, and working to fix a multitude of problems with the implementation, whether it be software bugs or a lack of employee training.

Ciranna, speaking to a reporter in June 2017, said it was no easy task to upgrade the district’s ERP system.

“Any time you have a project of this magnitude you are dealing with a lot of different concerns,” he said. “One is that the implementation has to follow board policy, it has to follow collective bargaining agreements, it has to follow best practices and state statutes and guidelines.”

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