Marietta City Schools BOE hears operations report

Projects paid for by the permanent improvement fund recently include roof replacement at Putnam Elementary School, purchase of a used Toyota Sienna van, repairs to the Marietta High School elevator and new flooring in several schools, the Marietta City Schools board of education heard in a verbal report from operations manager Darrell Prim at Monday night’s monthly meeting.

Prim also recommended using fund money to replace two buses, one of which has nearly 300,000 miles on it. The cost of the buses will be about $200,000, he said, which would come out of the permanent improvement fund.

The fund comes from a levy ratified in 2017, which provides the district with about $1.25 million a year for use on materials, including curriculum items such as textbooks, intended to last five years or more.

Prim also advised the board that it would be prudent to start replacing locks for buildings and individual classrooms because, as is common, employees have come and gone and failed to turn in their keys. Board president Doug Mallett recommended that a card-swipe system be set up to give the district better control of who has access to school facilities. Prim noted that power failure could leave buildings vulnerable because card-swipe systems default to leave doors unlocked when the electricity goes out unless a backup generator kicks in.

Prim said a local locksmithing company had provided an estimate of $15 per door to replace the locks, which district-wide would come to about $10,000.

Figures provided by treasurer Frank Antill indicated that the district spent $725,238 in permanent improvement funds last year, which included just over $200,000 for buses, $196,000 for curriculum materials and about $15,000 for lockdown devices in classrooms.

“It takes a lot of pressure off the general fund,” Mallett remarked.

The board heard from Mark Weihl, a local education advocate, who cited documents obtained through a public information request that a contract with Adidas in July was both signed in advance of board approval and ratified with no competing bids.

“Technically, it’s not legal to do that,” Weihl said. “There’s no competitive analysis, we don’t know if you overpaid, if you underpaid. There was no research prior to signing the contract.

“This defies sound business protocol, and I challenge you to rescind it and table it until you have the information to make an informed decision.”

The contract, Weihl said, was for exclusive provision of custom athletic wear for five years.

After the meeting, district athletic director Richard Guimond said the contract value is about $10,000 a year for five years. In return for being the exclusive provider, Adidas, through local vendor Zides Sport Shop, will give the district a 35 percent discount on clothing and 30 percent off on shoes.

“It’s a good deal,” Guimond said. “There aren’t many vendors in this area who could provide that amount of uniforms. I feel like we did well.”

At the meeting’s conclusion, board member Mark Duckwork said he’d like the board to reconsider the contract.

“I don’t think it’s been a fair and equitable process for local businesses. I’d like to give these people an opportunity to show what they have,” he said. “I think we shut people out of the process.”

Duckworth offered a motion to bring the matter under discussion but the motion failed to get a second, and the meeting adjourned.