Bidding delays security system for Vance schools

Dec. 22, 2013 @ 12:39 AM

Questions on the bidding process for school security has delayed implementation within Vance County Schools.

A recommendation to the full school board to approve bids was tabled at this past week’s building and grounds committee meeting. The committee agreed to confer with the board attorney, Jerry Stainback, on the difference between formal and informal bidding before taking action on the bids received for the security system construction work.

State law distinguishes between informal and formal bidding, where formal bidding requires more than two bids.

“Mr. Stainback is looking into all of this,” said Ronald Gregory, the school superintendent, at the meeting. “I have asked him to do that from day one, he has not gotten back with us. I am not going to make a recommendation until I have the advice of our attorney to go ahead and move forward with it. I’m not going to put the board in a situation where we are going to get burned.”

A document published by the UNC School of Government, entitled “An Overview of Contract Bidding requirements for North Carolina Local Government,” states informal bidding requirements cover contracts for construction or repair work of more than $30,000 but less than $500,000.

The document also states three bids are required only for construction or repair contracts in the formal range.

The school district received two bids in November: one bid of $69,022.36 and the other for $117,348.

Kevin Perdue, the maintenance supervisor, said if a third bid is required, the school district would need to rebid the construction project.

“You would have to re-advertise and start over because there is an unfair advantage by seeing what the previous two prices were,” Perdue said. “To be fair to everybody, you would have to re-advertise everything over again and give everyone the opportunity to rebid and start again.”

Perdue said the bidding issue has set back progress on construction.

“There was a time frame that was built into the project,” he said. “Over the holidays, at this point, construction would be started and we would be getting this work done as we are talking now but apparently nothing has taken place.”

Perdue said the 90-day project will likely be finished by the end of May.

Ruth Hartness expressed frustration with the project being delayed.

“We’ve been dealing with this for an awful long time,” said Hartness, who is the chairwoman of the building and grounds committee. “The bids came in on Nov. 13 and the administration was not happy because we did not have three bids so they asked for three bids, which we did not have to have.”

The security system construction project involves installing locks and card readers on about 60 doors in Vance County schools, as well as photographing all employees and issuing access badges.

In September, the Vance County commissioners approved the state education lottery funding for construction projects, including $50,500 for one year of the new door security system.

The project was estimated to cost $202,000 over four years. Claiborne Woods, the school systems facilities director, suggested a cost-saving measure that would install the locks and card readers at one time rather than over two years.

Following this suggestion, the commissioners approved an additional $50,500 at its October meeting at the request of the school board.

Once the full school board recommends a bid, the commissioners will need to approve the recommendation.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.