Irvine Challenge Grant Controversy Continues

In my post Wednesday on a new $1 million challenge grant to Irvine and Tustin schools, I mentioned a battle between Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea and Irvine Public Schools Foundation CEO Neda Zaengle over the handling of previous challenge grant money.

Shea had accused the foundation of hanging on to grant money for too long and pocketing the interest it was accruing rather than spending it in the schools. Zaengle acknowledged this week that the foundation accrued $1,300 in interest and that the money went toward printing and administrative costs.

Shea says Zaengle’s estimate can’t be true. According to an email she forwarded to me from City Manager Sean Joyce, the foundation accrued approximately $8,200 in interest, an estimate Shea called “extremely conservative.”

The problem, Shea said, is that the foundation was supposed to be a pass-through organization and was in no way supposed to use the grant money for any of its own operational or fund raising costs.

Zaengle, meanwhile, dismissed Joyce’s calculation and stood by the $1,300 figure. She added that given the new challenge grant and the strict timeframe attached to it, it was time to move on and forget about the circumstances of the last grant.

“I think it’s a waste of time to spend any more energy on this,” Zaengle said.

I’m betting that more energy will be spent on this issue. Stay tuned.