The [tag]Hillsborough County School Board[/tag] opened up the way it buys and evaluates land for new schools Tuesday as it agreed to spread the work among several companies for the first time – instead of only those handpicked by administrators. At the recommendation of superintendent [tag]MaryEllen Elia[/tag], board members quietly awarded three-year contracts to seven [tag]real estate[/tag] companies that submitted proposals for brokerage services. Only one of the companies, Kilgore Real Estate of Brandon, has previously worked for the district.
The nation’s ninth-largest school system paid millions of dollars in the last five years even though the work was awarded without competitive bidding, a violation of the district’s own policies. The district had no written contracts with the private brokers but gave them a 3 percent commission, in addition to what it paid the sellers for land – an unusual payment method for a government agency.
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