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Board member airs concerns

December 11, 2012
Morning Journal News

EAST LIVERPOOL - A city board of education member reiterated his concerns Monday night that the on-going Patterson Field improvement project was not properly bid out.

Member Richard Wolf read from a prepared statement, saying he had asked at the previous meeting to see all the competitive bids for the $1.5 million project and said he was advised there were none.

This, he said, despite the fact that contracts for the architect, general contractor, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and pile driving each exceeded statutory requirements that contracts exceeding $25,000 must be competitively bid.

"I was informed that the (board) could legally circumvent these requirements and instead accept quotes," Wolf said, adding that, when he asked who authorized such action, he was told the district's legal counsel had justified it in a letter.

Wolf claimed he asked to see the letter, Superintendent James Herring produced it but board members denied him access, citing attorney-client confidentiality.

Wolf reminded his fellow board members that circumventing the bidding process is allowed only in the event of "urgent necessity" or for safety and security of the district, neither of which exist in regard to the football field project.

Secondly, he said, attorney-client confidentiality is solely the privilege of the client and legal counsel has no authority to assert such a claim.

Wolf demanded to see and read publicly the letter "so that we might understand what existing statutory justification the attorney relied on to render such an opinion."

He also asked to have made publicly available for examination the performance bonds required for the contracts awarded for the project.

Board members did not comment on Wolf's statements, but when questioned after the meeting, President Janice Martin, member Bob Estell and Herring each said Wolf was invited to read the attorney's letter but he was told he could not make a copy.

They also said competitive bids were, in fact, sought for the Patterson project.

Also Monday, the board agreed to a Family and Medical Leave placement for Mark Reed, director of buildings and grounds, for the remainder of the year, although he may or may not actually take days off.

It was explained that the action was necessary to make it possible for Reed to be off if he needs to be, but Herring said Reed plans on being on the job each morning.

Wolf said his is a vital position and asked who will take Reed's place when he's off. He was advised maintenance supervisor Tim Fultz.

In other action, the board:

- Authorized the purchase a new 72-passenger bus for $85,416 from Truck Sales and Service, Midvale, which was bid through the purchasing consortium.

- Approved after the fact the hiring of assistant varsity football coach Richard Davis, with Herring saying approval of his contract may have been an oversight in August when administrative changes were taking place in the district

- Approved Samantha Cianni as assistant varsity softball coach

- Canceled its regular meeting of Dec. 24 and rescheduled it for Jan. 7, immediately following a reorganization meeting at 6 p.m. that day.



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