Ways to save on D9 elementary; board members have issues

David McKay of the Willamette ESD, who was hired late last year to oversee the many aspects of a new elementary school for District 9, presented a value engineering worksheet for the school board at their Feb. 24 workshop. McKay said three days were spent by several qualified staff going over the plans from DOWA (Dull Olson Weekes Architects) to see changes that might be made on the plans. Many of the recommended changes were cosmetic in nature and were cost saving.

Each item on the list included a brief description, comments, and a list of high, medium or low priority with dollar amounts. That was followed by design team input from DOWA.

He had a detailed list of 57 potential changes. Of that list, several had been eliminated after discussion with staff and/or the architect. Some, such as lighting, have yet to be evaluated. The next step in the process is for McKay and his team to meet with John Weekes and the Portland architects . McKay will ask DOWA to present a revised design within six to eight weeks. The project may be ready to go to bid in May. The process will be to advertise a RFQ which pre-qualifies bidders. That will be followed by an RFP, which is a request for proposal, or bid. McKay strongly recommended an attorney well-versed in construction law be involved in this process in an effort to avoid future issues.

The list in the value engineering presentation could save roughly $1.2 million, estimated McKay. That still brings the school well over dollars available. Randy Struckmeier, business manager, said currently there is some potential loan money “out there” at zero interest. He and McKay noted, however, in this economy that market can change.

Supt. Cynda Rickert had planned to continue her discussion of the four characteristics of improved school districts, but with board members Ted Dole and Maryann Olson out of town, she postponed that discussion.

Board Chair Scott Grissom talked to fellow board members about micro-managing based on a two-page article from one of their school board booklets. It described micro-managing as “When boards or board members plan, organize, direct, manage, etc., below their level of responsibility” and offered examples and suggestions to avoid that pitfall.  He repeatedly urged board members Jim Mannenbach and Mark Bateman to work toward a cooperative effort.

Grissom and Mannenbach got into a discussion on everything from Mannenbach’s recent letter to the editor in the Feb. 23 Upper Rogue Independent, to anonymous letters presented from staff to the board the night of the superintendent’s evaluation to failure of Mannenbach and Bateman to sign the superintendent’s evaluation form which went to the state.

As the discussion continued, Mannenbach said honesty, transparency and respect were most important issues.

“When trust is high, costs go down. Costs have gone up because of a lack of trust,” said Supt. Rickert.

Mannenbach said he had talked to District Attorney Huddleston because he has not received recordings of complete minutes he requested. He said he requested copies of CDs of the past two meetings to check on their accuracy on Feb. 11, 15 and 21. According to District 9, the request was for minutes of December and January.

In an outline from Mannenbach given to the Independent, he said, “My inaccurate response from district office was that this was a generation of new information, (rather than an “existing” record, which I stated) and it would take a majority vote of the board for me to get the information. I was also told I could request it as an individual and the district would have 45 days to respond.”

Mannebach said he checked with the public meetings manual to verify  accuracy of the district information.
“I then replied to district office with my findings and they did not respond back. I mentioned that I may seek legal advice.”  He said after waiting for a response and not getting one, he checked with the district attorney.

The district says board policy allows 45 days for a response.

Mannenbach referenced the public meetings manual beginning with page 8. It says a request but in writing and a response acknowledging receipt of the request must be “as soon as practicable and without unreasonable delay.”  And it lists six items, one of which must be included in the response. An estimate of time and fees was one of the options.  Reasonable amount of time, according to the manual, depends on the volume of records requested and staffing available to respond.

Mannenbach said his need to see the minutes was over a correction he wanted in the minutes. The minutes were approved the board of directors.

“You are trying to rewrite minutes and this is not your role,” said the superintendent.

According to the public meetings manual, minutes shall contain at least:
• Members present
•Motions, proposals, resolutions, orders, ordinances and measures proposed and their disposition.
• Results of all votes by name of each member.
• Subject or ORS 192.410 to 192.505, reference to any document discussed.
• Minutes need not be verbatim.

Apparently Mannenbach wanted comments he made in those meetings included in the minutes. Also apparently this was the issue with this editor with regard to statements he made in a recent workshop and at least part of the reason for his recent letter to the editor.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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