Why Discovery Education Consultants were Chosen

Posted 4/11/2022

The Orem Mayor and City Council reaffirm their intention to proceed with a full and comprehensive Orem school district feasibility study conducted by Discovery Education Consultants (Discovery), led by Dr. Paul McCarty. 

As a city council, we recognize what is at stake with this study. The residents of this community are entitled to reliable information and data. The City Council is committed to ensuring the study does just that. Utah State law sets forth that “The determination of all matters relating to the scope, adequacy, and other aspects of a feasibility study is within the exclusive discretion of the city’s legislative body (see 53G-3-302(b)(i)). We take that responsibility seriously and we are committed to doing this right.

The Discovery team has already commenced with their research and analysis and we have every confidence that they will produce a reliable and professional study. What set Discovery Educational Consultants apart in the selection process was their unique ability to interpret data and financial information for educational organization application.

Discovery Education Consultants is made up of Dr. Paul McCarty, LaVar Christensen, Michael D. Wankier. Each of these men are seasoned and celebrated professionals. While the company was recently formed in February of this year, they have 100 years of cumulative knowledge and expertise. Discovery brings together expertise from a variety of areas including real estate, finance, education, school district management, and law. 

Dr. Paul McCarty has served in education for over 40 years everywhere from the frontline, to middle management, to administration and knows how school districts operate. He has been involved in multiple public school evaluation studies. While working at Granite School District he was intimately involved with a community-driven effort to help understand the capacity of school facilities and identify future needs and educational programs. Many residents have correctly pointed out that Dr. McCarty was involved with the Canyons District School split and is currently involved in a proposed Draper School District split, and while some may see this as concerning, we value his unique experience in this matter. Dr. McCarty is particularly well-suited to conduct this study because he has an experiential understanding of the opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed by this feasibility study.

Michael D. Wankier, CPA, will lead the financial analysis part of the Feasibility Study.  His extensive background includes being the former Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation. He also was the Controller for Pinnacle Security and was responsible for the development of an accounting and finance function that supported a multi-million dollar customer base.  During his career, he has led financial feasibility studies for various projects including acquisitions, construction projects, and real estate development projects. He has a network within the CPA community that allows him access to high-level CPAs in both the public and private sectors.  In addition, he worked as an Auditor and was rated an exceptional performer at the prestigious Big Four accounting firm KPMG. Early in his career he also worked at Arthur Anderson.   

LaVar Christensen brings over 40 years of legal experience to the Discovery team, specifically in education law, real estate law, public policy, and government regulations. He served as an elected member of the Utah House of Representatives for eight years and was Chair or Vice-Chair for many committees including the public education and public education appropriations committees. 

Through the city’s website, we are providing an avenue for residents to submit questions. We will ensure that those questions are being considered in this study and we will hold our consultants to the highest level of professionalism. You can trust the City Council to ensure that the study focuses on facts, not opinions. 

FAQs - The Selection of Discovery Education Consultants to Perform the Orem School District Feasibility Study

The City Manager and Legislative Counsel reached out to Utah companies to invite each to make a proposal. The City’s Legislative Counsel worked with Orem City procurement staff to solicit bids from qualified firms. Multiple firms were contacted and given the option to submit proposals.

  • Experience related to a school district reconfiguration
  • Prior management of a school district
  • Ability to assess and value school district assets
  • Experience analyzing financial data 
  • Awards and achievements
  • Educational and professional qualifications 
  • No conflicts of interest
  • Competitive bid 

Legislative Counsel implemented a bid proposal processes to select the consultant. The public is typically not included in bid proposal selection processes. 

The agreement has a not-to-exceed price of $30,000.

Information about Discovery Education Consultants and Feasibility Study

Discovery Education Consultants is made up of Dr. Paul McCarty, LaVar Christensen, Michael D. Wankier. Each of these men are seasoned and celebrated professionals. While the company was recently formed in February of this year, they have 100 years of cumulative knowledge and expertise. DEC brings together expertise from a variety of areas including real estate, finance, education, school district management, and law. 

Dr. Paul McCarty has served in education for over 40 years everywhere from the frontline, to middle management, to administration and knows how school districts operate. He has been involved in multiple public school evaluation studies. While working at Granite School District he was intimately involved with a community-driven effort to help understand the capacity of school facilities and identify future needs and educational programs. Many residents have correctly pointed out that Dr. McCarty was involved with the Canyons District School split and is currently involved in a proposed Draper School District split, and while some may see this as concerning, we value his unique experience in this matter. Dr. McCarty is particularly well-suited to conduct this study because he has an experiential understanding of the opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed by this feasibility study.

Michael D. Wankier, CPA, will lead the financial analysis part of the Feasibility Study.  His extensive background includes being the former Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation. He also was the Controller for Pinnacle Security and was responsible for the development of an accounting and finance function that supported a multi-million dollar customer base.  During his career, he has led financial feasibility studies for various projects including acquisitions, construction projects, and real estate development projects. He has a network within the CPA community that allows him access to high-level CPAs in both the public and private sectors.  In addition, he worked as an Auditor and was rated an exceptional performer at the prestigious Big Four accounting firm KPMG. Early in his career he also worked at Arthur Anderson.   

LaVar Christensen brings over 40 years of legal experience to the DEC team, specifically in education law, real estate law, public policy, and government regulations. He served as an elected member of the Utah House of Representatives for eight years and was Chair or Vice-Chair for many committees including the public education and public education appropriations committees. 

  • Enrollment
  • School Boundaries
  • Special Programs
  • Funding Sources
  • Capital Facilities
  • Debt and Bonding
  • Taxable Values
  • Tax Burden
  • Additional  issues pertinent to potentially creating an Orem School District
  • Additional Studies related to school district enrollment and size

Yes, any questions that have been submitted through the City’s website portal, as well as questions that have been gleaned from the City social media sites, will be submitted to the consultant. The study is an independent evaluation of data. Following the completion of the study, there will be an opportunity for public review in a public meeting.

The findings from the final study will be made available to the public. A meeting will be held where the public can ask questions and learn more about the findings. Details on that meeting will be determined once the study is complete.

School District Study General FAQs

No. The Council has voted to move forward with a feasibility study. The Council Members do not yet know if it is feasible to form a new school district.

 

State law provides that a feasibility study is required prior to moving forward with the creation of a new school district.

It is a study to determine if it is financially, or otherwise feasible, for the City of Orem to form a school district within the boundaries of the City.

Numerous factors are considered, including enrollment, boundaries, special programs, tax value, budget funds, capital facilities, debt, bonding, studies related to enrollment size in school districts, and other important issues. All of these factors will be considered by the firm that will perform the study.

The City Council will release the feasibility study on the City website and through other media outlets. They will then review the feasibility study so that each City Council Member may determine if it is or is not feasible to form a new school district. The City Council intends to discuss this study in open meetings so that the public can provide their input.

The City Council may simply announce that they do not intend to pursue a new school district or the Council may vote not to proceed any further.

The City Council is required by state law to vote as a Council. If the Council votes in the affirmative, the question will then be placed on the ballot and voted on by the residents of Orem. A new school district may only be created if the majority vote for a new district.

State law guarantees that the salary, benefits, and tenure of an employee is transferred to the new school district. Future decisions regarding compensation increases are determined by an elected school board, chosen by the residents living within the new school district. The City Council would not be involved in those decisions.

To read the state codes click the links below: 

Employees of a new district – click here

Rights of transferred employees – click here