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Roane County Schools submitted a requisition to the county earlier this month to order two leather briefcases from a website called Forzieri, which touts itself as having “the world’s most-coveted luxury accessories.”
The Brunelleschi Italian leather briefcases by Pratesi cost $585 each.
“They’ve done the research and this is a 20-year warranty on this thing,” Director of Schools Gary Aytes said. “It comes out to $29 a year.”
According to the details posted on the Forzieri website, the briefcases only have a two-year warranty.
The material is calf leather and includes a flap with combination lock closure.
The requisition said the purpose of the order is “to replace school/courthouse mailbags.”
“The bags that we have are old, but I think that’s an awful lot of money,” county budget director Kaley Walker said. “I was surprised.”
Walker said the bags sole use is to carry documents between the courthouse and central office, which are about two miles apart.
Aytes said the Pratesi briefcases weren’t the school system’s first option.
“They did order one from Office Depot that was $150,” he said. “When they got it back, it had a one-year warranty, and they said they could tell by looking at it that it wouldn’t last.”
Aytes said the Pratesi briefcases are “good quality.”
“They’re going to look at these,” he said. “They actually have not ordered them, but they’re going to look at these and if they don’t match the quality of the one that they had before, they’re going to send these back.”
Roane County Executive Ron Woody called purchasing luxury briefcases inappropriate.
“It just appeared to me that in this economic time we’re in, we could have got something of equal value with less cost,” he said.
While he might not like the purchase, the county executive has no authority to tell the school system what to buy.
“The public has entrusted them to run their operation,” Woody said. “They are the decision makers.”
“Under the laws that we’re under, they are appropriated money, and they have a right to spend it the way they want to,” he added. “It is an independent body that makes their own decisions on what to buy, who to hire and what to pay them.”