Manila School Board rejects bids

Friday, May 13, 2005

Manila School Board members reviewed bids for air conditioning the gymnasium at a special called meeting Monday, May 2.

George Krennerich, AIA Architect with Brackett Kennerich Cooper, of Fayetteville, was present to open the sealed bids.

Douglas Electric and RGB Sheet Metal submitted the two bids considered by the board.

Douglas Electric bid $74,386 for the 15 Ton Units and $78,773 for the 20 Ton Units with a 90 day completion deadline.

RGB bids were $68,525 for the 15 Ton Units and $73,300 for the 20 Ton Units with a 60 day completion date.

The board discussed the budget for the work and several members commented they would rather see the larger units installed.

Following a lengthy discussion, the board members voted to reject all bids.

Board member Scott Misner asked about not hiring elementary teachers to replace the ones that are leaving.

He said he is not comfortable cutting the number of teachers.

President of the school board Rob Veach said it has always depended on the numbers and how teachers can be moved around to fill the positions to meet the needs of the classes with the larger numbers. Some grades will only need three sections and the larger classes four.

Superintendent Pam Castor explained that it is a fiscally good move. One of the largest classes will be moving to the seventh grade. She also pointed out that the numbers (classroom sizes) will still be within the state standards.

Misner questioned how the decrease in teachers would effect the number of students in each class and asked if this decision was based on projected numbers. He then asked how many students are in kindergarten through sixth grades.

Castor said there are 527 kindergarten through sixth grade students.

Board member Tony Crowell wanted to know how long the class sizes have been running 16-18 students.

Board member Jackie Hill said he thought 25 to 28 students are too many for one teacher.

"There was a time when we maxed out every year and sometimes had to hire at last minute," Veach said. "I hate to be maxed out. I would rather be comfortable. If you look at these numbers, we aren't even close to maximum."

Crowell asked when would hiring more personnel in the four through sixth grades would be considered.

Castor said if the numbers went to 25 or 26 in each class, knowing that 28 is maximum, it would be time to start thinking about hiring.

Castor also explained that school funding would be down as the enrollment funding will be based on 995 students the coming year. This year's funding was based on 1005 students. The funding, based on the numbers will be cut by $55,000.

She also pointed out the district could be facing additional cuts and additional unfunded mandates in the coming year.

Hill said he would still rather see lower numbers in the classrooms.

"As it looks now, I don't predict having to hire more teachers," Castor said. "I know some resignations have to be rehired."

Board member Johnny McCann said he does not like to have to come back in August and hire.

Diane Baugher, elementary principal, pointed out it is not good to hire too many teachers and then be forced to let them go in a year.

Board member Donald Master said he also wants to see the classroom numbers smaller but she (Pam Castor) has to answer to the expected funding cuts.

Misner again commented that he is not comfortable waiting until August to hire.

Castor said from time to time they have to hire a kindergarten teacher in August. She said that depends on how many late registrations come in. She also said the school will know by May 15 if the district is approved for a pre-kindergarten grant.

Castor explained that some districts do interviews even if there are no openings.

"We could go ahead and do Kindergarten through sixth grade interviews," Castor said.

Castor said she is looking out for everything in her recommendations.

"I don't want the district or the board to have to face academic distress or financial distress," Castor said. "We can have interviews set up with applicants. We want everyone to have an equal opportunity."

Misner said he thought that would be a step in the right direction.

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