In tense meeting, Stanly commissioners approve budget amendment for Endy expansion

Published 9:47 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Tensions rose in a joint meeting between the Stanly County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education April 11 in discussions concerning the classroom expansion at Endy Elementary.

However, the commissioners voted 6-1 to approve a budget amendment which funds the expansion. The school board voted April 10 to go with JM Cope Construction for the project, at a cost of $3.576 million and an additional bid of $406,000 for more classrooms.

Commission Vice Chairman Mike Barbee voted against the project, saying he supported renovating and reopening Ridgecrest Elementary instead.

The school board members fielded commissioners’ questions regarding the bid process.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto asked about Hoss Construction, to whom the school board first approved for the project. Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis said the architect for the project with Pinnacle said he had talked to Hoss and they were fine with the board’s decision to go with JM Cope.

“I’ve produced the lowest responsive bidder and we just need a perfunctory vote to release the money,” Dennis said. “No one’s getting sued. No one’s lost money at this juncture.”

Commissioner Brandon King asked why the school board did not go with the initial lowest responsive bidder, HM Kern.

Dennis said one has to “take into consideration quality, performance, time, things like that. We haven’t done a project in a long time and we want to do it right.” He said “cheapest isn’t always best,” and said he had concerns with the lowest bidder.

When King asked what those concerns were, Dennis said, “I’m not really going to go into the minutiae because it was a private conversation, and I don’t want to say any concerns…just looking at this as anyone would look at it, that’s a low price and a very aggressive time frame to get something accomplished.”

Asciutto asked the school board members about doing another facilities study, to which school board member Dustin Lisk said SCS had four studies done in the last 19 years. Lisk said another study would cost $750,000.

School board chair Carla Poplin said there were reasons for not accepting Kern’s bid.

“They’re just reasons we can’t state in a public, open (meeting),” she said.

Commission Chairman Bill Lawhon said what he was hearing was the architect made the decision to not use Kern for the school board.

“Be careful. Don’t let an architect make your decision,” Lawhon said.

Lisk said the commissioners have “the power of the purse, but sometimes your tone and approach to (the school) board is not conducive to working together.”

Commissioner Scott Efird said it was not one board against the other.

“Why does everything have to be so hard when we ask for something? Even the resolution we asked for…just say, ‘Hey. You’re full of crap. We’re not going to do it.’ At least let us know and communicate with us.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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