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Halifax Area School Board to
discuss general fund budget
By Duane Good, EDITOR

HALIFAX • The Halifax Area School Board will meet Thursday, March 3 for further discussion – and possible action – on a contract to provide maintenance for the district’s athletic fields for the 2016-17 school year.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. in the secondary campus cafeteria.  (An executive session is scheduled for 6 p.m.)

The matter has occupied time at the board past two public board meetings (Jan. 26 and Feb. 23). At last week’s meeting, the board voted down a motion to award the work to one of the vendors that the district said had met the necessary requirements.

The story so far. The district, last fall, invited vendors to submit Requests for Proposals to perform maintenance work to the following district athletic fields: football/softball; practice/junior varsity; varsity softball; and baseball.

The work would include mowing, line trimming, sidewalk clearing, weeding/spraying; refuse removal; fertilization when necessary; and tree, shrub and turf damage.

The agreement also called for pest management services and for one-time renovations of the junior-varsity softball field, as well as other services as needed.

According to wording in the Sentinel’s legal advertisement, vendors were to contact the business manager for RFP guidelines, and each vendor’s RFP was due to the district no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, 2015.

The district had prepared a five-year agreement – retroactive to Jan. 1 and continuing through Dec. 31, 2020 – with a vendor and submitted it for board action. (Since no contract has been awarded as of press time, the newspaper is withholding the name of the potential vendor until final action is taken.)

The agreement called for the vendor to provide general services at an annual rate of $43,931 for three years; $44,810 for the fourth year; and $45,250 for the fifth year, plus the softball field renovation for no more than $6,069 as well as other services as needed. according to a copy of the agreement.

Discussion continues. The proposal – as well as certain aspects of how the district has handled the matter to this point – have come in for questioning and some criticism.

At the Jan. 26 meeting, a vendor whose proposal was not accepted asked the board to explain why, saying he had followed all the procedures as he understood them. (Board members said he had not.) The vendor said he didn’t wish to bring legal action against the district, but would if he thought it necessary.

At last week’s meeting, board member Scott Corsnitz said he saw discrepancies between the newspaper legal advertising and the RFP guidelines  forwarded to vendors. For instance, the RFP gave a due date (Nov. 4) but not a set time deadline.

‘‘If a bid was faxed or emailed by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 4, it should have been legit,’’ Corsnits said. ‘‘(The RFP) was too open-ended.’’

Corsnitz also questioned whether some terms of the proposed agreement were realistic enough to keep the fields in proper shape all year-round.

‘‘We did more diligence in finding a football coach than for we did for over $200,000 in field maintenance,’’ he said.

Trudy Withers questioned language in the proposal that said any work beyond the scope of the agreement required approval only by the district’s business manager and athletic director. She said it appeared as if no board approval would be required for such work.

The motion to award the bid failed 6-3. Voting ‘‘no’’ were Board President Melissa Konyar; Donna Rode; Cornsitz; Vice President Larry Cox Jr.; Robbie Eyster; and Trudy Withers. Voting ‘‘yes’’ were Brad Harker, Gary Shade and Thomas Weber.

The board also agreed that all board members were to be provided copies of all bidders for the agreement, and to hold the March 3 meeting. Complaints were made at last week’s meeting that not all board members saw the proposed bids before the now-rejected proposal was presented.

District: We did due diligence. Asked to comment for this article, district Superintendent Dr. Michele Orner and Business Manager Mike Bower said they believe proper due diligence was done throughout the bid-seeking process.

The district was not required legally to seek bidders for a professional services contract, but it decided to do so anyway so the best possible vendor for the work could be found, the administrators said.

‘‘The board has the right to reject the administrative team’s work,’’ Orner stated. ‘‘We put a contract in front of the board and the board rejected it. That’s their prerogative.’’

Achievement forum slated. The special board meetng is not the only activity at the Halifax secondary campus March 3.

A Student Achievement Forum is slated that evening at 7 p.m. – after the board meeting – and also in the secondary cafeteria. According to the distict, student achievement is the main topic of the meeting, and sub-topics will include testing and state-mandated academic standards.


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