Newport-Mesa Unified increases legal budget

COSTA MESA — The Newport-Mesa Unified school board voted Tuesday to increase the district's budget by $150,000 for legal services.

The board voted 6-1 to increase the 2010-11 allocations for law firms Parker & Covert, LLP and Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo.

Trustee Katrina Foley, an attorney, dissented.

Foley asked that the district survey other firms and look at other school districts' contracts with law firms to see if they could cut costs or get more competitive bids.

"I don't think we are getting a competitive contract at this time," she said.

The board's previous allocation in June — $300,000 for Parker & Covert and $200,000 for Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo — were about to run out, acting Supt. Paul Reed told the board.

The district has seen an increased need to utilize the two firms for special education and general bargaining, Reed said, adding the district has seen "significant challenges" with special education.

The increase brings the district's budget with Parker & Covert to $350,000 and Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo to $300,000.

Trustee Judy Franco though said she twice looked into using other law firms and twice came back to the original one, which she called the best in the business.

—Britney Barnes

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