Installation of schools security system delayed

Mar. 01, 2014 @ 03:18 PM

Two months after legal questions stalled progress on Vance County Schools’ security door project, the school board has raised other legal concerns that continue to delay the project.

N.C. Sound and Access Control Consultants bid by on the project in November, but it was put on hold as the board awaited a response from attorney Jerry Stainbeck about whether more than three bids were required by law.

The board voted at its Feb. 11 meeting to start over and rebid the door locking system, based on Stainbeck’s response in closed session.

But Superintendent Ronald Gregory said rebidding would be premature.

“I don’t think we are at a point right now where we can even entertain the rebidding process because there are still too many questions out there,” Gregory said at the building and grounds committee meeting Feb. 27. “There are too many issues out here that have not been put on the table. You know, one’s hearing this, one’s hearing that and somebody else is not hearing anything.”

At the building and grounds committee meeting, Gregory said the discrepancy in the bid tabulation was not addressed by N.C. Sound.

According to the bid tabulation, N.C. Sound offered a base bid of $69,022.36 for the project and Access Control Consultants’ base bid was $117,348.

“We need to know, if we are going to spend this money, that we are getting the best bang for our buck,” Gregory said. “And somebody coming back to us another year later or six months later, and saying, ‘Look we have now upgraded to this, and it is time for you to upgrade.’ You know, technology changes every single day.”

The Vance County Board of Commissioners allocated $50,500 for four phases of the project. The commissioners revised the funding allocation, at the request of the school board, and combined phase one and two for savings of about $29.000.

Facilities Director Claiborne Woods wrote in an email in December commissioners advanced the money with the expectation that the timeline would not change.

But Dr. Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, maintained the $48,000 difference in bids was worth an explanation.

“There is always going to be a discrepancy in bids; that’s why you have the bidding process,” she said at the building and grounds meeting. “However, I think what we need to consider is the percentage of the discrepancy. If it’s $10,000 and it's only $100 discrepancy, you are not concerned about what you are getting. If you have $100,000 process or $200,000 process and there is a $50,000 discrepancy, that is a hefty discrepancy based on the money you are spending. Anybody who has bid something out personally, you are excited about the lower bid but you are also going to be cautious about that lower bid because you are going to wonder, ‘What am I getting?’ ”

School board member Ed Wilson suggested the board seek answers from the companies themselves.

“Can you try to resolve the disparity between the two bids by talking to N.C. Sound and then talking to the other company and see if you can make any sense as to what the difference is?” he said.

But Gregory responded with concerns about Kevin Perdue, who is filling in for Woods while he is on medical leave.

“We can probably do that, but, Ed, I've got a problem with that,” Gregory said. “Kevin has just stepped in, and I don’t want him to have to be dragged into something and then find out that there have been other discussions out there that he nor I nor anyone else has been privy to. I would have thought by now that Mr. Woods would have been back with us and we could have been a lot further down than we are because we would have hopefully gotten all these questions answered.”

The committee agreed to bring forward a motion to the full board, at its next regular meeting on March 10, stating Perdue’s intention to hear from school districts in Nash and Rocky Mount, which have contracted with N.C. Sound.

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