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School Board approves low-bid bond attorney

Reapportionment Consultant Linda Meggers presents proposed redistricting maps to the DCSS Board during Wednesday's special meeting at the administration building downtown.

Reapportionment Consultant Linda Meggers presents proposed redistricting maps to the DCSS Board during Wednesday's special meeting at the administration building downtown.

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County School System now has a bond attorney for the county's $40 million Sales Tax for Educational Progress bond issue -- and saved a few bucks in the process.

At a called meeting Wednesday, the board voted 6-1 at to accept the low bid of $37,500 by Murray, Barnes, Finster of Atlanta to handle the bond work.

On Monday, the board was on the verge of accepting McKenna Long and Aldridge's $57,000 bid, before the meeting disintegrated into disarray after four different motions -- accept the higher bid, delay the vote until Wednesday, rebid the request for bids or accept the lowest bid -- came up in rapid-fire succession and each was quickly voted down.

The decision tipped on Wednesday when lead partner Roger Murray appeared before the board and made his case.

"I've heard the chair mention several time the issue of fairness," Murray told the board. "We submitted the lowest proposal, and we are in difficult times, that's why our bid was so low. With the county furloughing teachers, now is not the time to leave $20,000 on the table.

"We handle more bond work than any other firm in the state. ... All we do is bond work."

The pitch worked. The only board member to vote against accepting the low bid was Milton Griffin. Griffin stated Monday night that he was willing to spend $30,000 more for a bidder who had Albany ties. Bush said Monday that McKenna Long and Aldridge employed a Monroe High School graduate.

The full board also got its first look at the county's proposed redistricting map, and agreed to post the map on its website and at all public libraries for two weeks for public feedback. Members of the School Board and the Dougherty County Commission are elected from six common single-member districts. The seventh member of each board is elected at-large. That at-large member serves as chair of the County Commission, but the School Board elects its chairman from among its seven members each year.

"We had one of the best in the state (redistricting consultant Linda Meggers) redraw this map," board Chairman James Bush said. "We are going to post it on our website so people can give us direction and comment on this."

In other business, the board accepted a resolution denying the petition for an online Provost Academy.

Among other things, the resolution cited inadequate assurances that the charter school would remain under the control and management of the School Board, a timeline as to when the school expects to receive state and local funding, and that approval would result in costing the school system money.