Suggestion of school board committee on locks not accepted

Apr. 15, 2014 @ 09:36 PM

The Vance County school board’s appeal of legislation requiring teacher bonuses and contracts and its $19 million budget plan were approved without discussion at Monday night’s meeting, but bids for school security locks remained a heated debate.

The building and grounds committee of the board recommended N.C. Sound, a bidder for the contract, to give a presentation to the board on its bidding prices and the installation process.

“We are dragging our feet,” board member Ruth Hartness said. “It’s been one year since we started this process.”

The bidding process has been on hold since November when legal issues arose regarding the bid from N.C. Sound, which was about $50,000 less than the next closest bid. There were also legal questions raised about project specifications that N.C. Sound submitted.

Superintendent Ronald Gregory declined comment to The Dispatch when asked for clarification on the issues with N.C. Sound. Under the Freedom of Information Act, The Dispatch on March 20 requested Gregory’s emails from January 2013 to present relating to school security systems.

As of Tuesday, that request had not been honored. Amanda Martin, legal counsel for the N.C. Press Association, of which The Dispatch is a member, wrote in an email Tuesday the information should have already been provided.

During the meeting, some board members felt the security system issue didn’t need to be addressed.

“I feel that we are wasting time in this matter,” said Gloria White, board chairwoman. “We have already voted to have this rebidded.”

The board denied the building and grounds committee’s motion, sticking with the Feb. 11 vote to rebid as recommended by the board’s attorney, Jerry Stainback.

“We have confidence in him, and that’s why he’s sitting here,” White said.

The approved $19 million budget plan, which includes funds for teacher supplements and the addition of a $1.5 million technology fund, will go to the board of county commissioners for approval at its next meeting.

The appeal of legislation requiring school boards to give 25 percent of their teachers four-year contracts and bonuses will be submitted to the legislature. The board hopes to get the $10 million allotment for other incentives and increase all teachers pay.

“We have to do something, and this is a good start,” White said.

More than 70 other boards across North Carolina have submitted a similar appeal already.

“We value our teachers and want them to be treated like professionals,” Gregory said. “This is our way of showing them our support. They should all be treated equally.”

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.