Without a new invoice to inspect, the School Board has postponed talking about the $6,600 bill it received from the Florida School Boards Association until its Aug. 14 meeting in Marathon.
Wayne Blanton, executive director of the nonprofit agency and a veteran superintendent-search consultant, turned in the one-page invoice -- asking for 10 days' pay at $500 a day -- for helping to get Monroe County's search off the ground this spring.
Also included is $1,600 in travel expenses, from Tallahassee to the Florida Keys.
Board members expressed a willingness to pay for three days of work.
"I don't see 10 days' worth of work, OK?" board Chairman John Dick said Wednesday. "Wayne is a professional and I'm sure he will do the right thing. He got the thing going; it's not like it was a waste of money. He's hitting us a little hard."
Blanton is out of town, a co-worker at the Tallahassee agency said Wednesday, and he didn't return an email from The Citizen asking about the invoice.
The board originally agreed to hire Blanton, who promised to deliver the perfect candidate for no more than $8,000, no matter how many days' work it took.
The nonprofit agency caps its search fees at $8,000 for all districts.
But since Monroe County is no longer a member of the association -- sharing that distinction with only Nassau County among the state's 67 school districts -- it remained unclear if Blanton and his team would do the search without the paid dues.
In March, former Superintendent Jesus Jara said the board would pay the $15,000 in dues next year. But a majority of the board this month rejected the idea of joining the association.
At its Tuesday meeting, the board briefly reviewed the matter and tabled it for later.
Vice Chairman Andy Griffiths suggested the board consider joining the agency, which might waive the search invoice in exchange for the $15,000 payment.
"Bring it back in about four years," said Dick, who in 2009 led the 3-2 vote that ended the School Board's membership with the association and the state superintendents association, saving about $26,000 a year.
By April, the School Board already had received a "pre-search" bill from Blanton for $1,800.
On Wednesday, the meeting minutes weren't available, but Dick said he thought the board paid that bill for Blanton's travel expenses.
Griffiths, who counts Blanton among his state education contacts, said he believed the agency will revise the invoice.
It was Griffiths who brought Blanton down to the Keys to help kick-start the search; and the veteran board member also put the "immediate termination" item on the agenda just weeks later, after the search committee met and several members said that Blanton's guidance was common sense material.
"I didn't speak directly with Wayne," said Griffiths on Tuesday. "I'm getting this secondhand. He respects three days. He would waive it if we'd get back in the fold."
The board cut ties with Blanton before the schools chief search got into full swing in May, letting a 20-member search committee do the legwork, vetting the 56 applications that resulted in the hiring of Mark Porter of Minnesota.
Porter started work Wednesday, the day after signing a contract that guarantees him $150,000 in base salary but none of the performance pay that was originally offered to him by a negotiating committee.