Dougherty School Board stalemates on bond counsel

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- The Dougherty County School Board's monthly meeting Monday night was sailing along smoothly enough until the board reached item 8a on its agenda. That's when three different motions to select or delay the selection of a bond attorney were all defeated, leaving the system's pursuit of a $40 million Sales Tax for Educational Progress (STEP) bond in limbo.

Earlier Monday, DCSS Finance Committee members Anita Williams-Brown and James Bush, who chairs the School Board, voted for a proposal from McKenna, Long and Aldridge of Atlanta, which had a five-year projected cost of $57,000, while Carol Tharin recommended Murray, Barnes, Finester, whose costs projected at $37,500.

The 2-1 vote pushed the proposal to the full board for consideration. The item, however, had to be penciled in because it was not on the original board agenda for the evening.

When Milton Griffin said McKenna, Long and Aldridge had a Monroe High Graduate on staff, and that's who he was voting for, Tharin asked if that was "worth the $20,000 difference in price?"

Griffin responded: "I will go with Albany people every time, even if the price is $30,000 higher."

The board then voted 4-3 to not approve the McKenna, Long and Aldridge bid of $57,000. Griffin, Bush and Anita Williams-Brown voted in favor for awarding that bid.

Darrel Ealum, saying the full board had not had enough time to consider the proposals, then made a motion to table the item until a special called board meeting at noon on Wednesday. That was defeated 5-2. Ealum and Velvet Riggins voted in favor of tabling.

Then David Maschke made a motion to accept Murray, Barnes, Finester's low bid of $37,500. That was defeated 5-2, with Maschke and Tharin voting to accept that bid.

The three votes all occurred rapidly one after the other and there was some confusion, as some were voice votes and others a show of hands.

Bush then quickly adjourned the meeting without waiting for any School Board member to make a motion or vote on it.

"We are back to square one. We have no bond attorney." DCSS Finance Director Robert Lloyd said. "We have an Aug. 31 deadline to get this on the ballot. If we miss that deadline, the next time it can come up again will be in the 2012 presidential election."

In earlier business, The board unanimously approved leaving the 2011-12 property tax rate at 18.445 mill and approved HVAC improvements for the DCSS administration building; roof modifications for Lamar Reese Elementary School, and change orders for Albany High, Dougherty High and Dougherty International Education Middle school.

The board also approved into allowing Municipal Communications Inc. to perform site surveys on school grounds as to the feasibility of communications tower sites by a 6-1 vote, with Ealum the lone dissenter.

The board approved paving a parking lot at Monroe High and tennis court resurfacing at Westover High, 6-0, with Ealum abstaining.

The purchase of eight new school buses breezed through by a unanimous vote.

The board will meet again in a special called meeting at noon Wednesday to discuss the redrawn district map and a proposal for an online Provost Charter School.

The next regular board meeting is set for Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.