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Band trailer leads to big debate for school board

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 11:42 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 11:43 a.m. CDT

The amount of $450 sparked an intense back and forth dialogue between the members of the Newton Community School Board of Education during Monday night’s meeting.

The catalyst for the debate was which bid the board should accept for the high school’s old band trailer, which had been donated to the program by the band boosters. Paul Soli placed a high bid of $1,250, but board member Bill Perrenoud urged the board to accept a lower bid before the votes were cast.

“I know it’s not a high dollar item, but I do know that there is one bid there where someone is interested in getting it for their Boy Scout troop,” Perrenoud said. “Boy Scouts have a hard time having funds made available to them and they worked hard to get this troop up and going.”

“Personally, I would like to see the bid go to that particular individual because it is going to be benefiting kids and that’s what we’re about,” he continued.

Several other board members pointed out, in the past, the board has gone by a system of accepting the lowest bid for a service and the highest bid for selling an item and that by making an exception, they could be setting themselves up for repercussions down the line.

“Do we know the purposes of all the bids? Was that a part of the bid process?”  board member Robyn Friedman asked.

“There was no requirement for any explanation,” Business Manager/Board Secretary Gayle Isaac answered. “In fact, that’s the only one that even made any comment about why they were buying it.”

NCSD Superintendent Bob Callaghan also chimed in on the matter.

“The only thing I would caution the board about — and it doesn’t mean that we can’t come back at some other time with this particular agenda item — however, I go back to the sale of the Maytag house where we didn’t put any stipulations on the bid process during the bid process and now all of a sudden we are in the same boat,” Callaghan said.

“Board members, I am certainly not describing to you what I think you should do. All I am saying is my responsibility is for us to be fair and equitable to everyone in the community and we did not place any stipulations,” he continued. “So if we are going to place stipulations, we certainly could do that, but I would recommend we consider a re-bid and say, ‘You need to give us the purpose.’”

Board member Donna Cook said she would prefer if the board stay away from taking such actions as it would be hard to judge the criteria of which cause is the most deserving.

“While I think it would be nice to help out a scout troop in this way, I feel that when we look at other district-owned property, it has been our typical practice to sell to the highest bidder and buy from the lowest bidder,” board member Sherri Benson said.

“I think when we look at property, we have to take the emotions out of it and make decisions that way,” she continued.

Perrenoud, however, was still sticking to his guns.

“It’s not emotions; it’s the use of it. Why are we here? Who are we here for? Kids,” Perrenoud said of his view.

In the end, the board voted 4-2 to approve the sale to Soli. Perrenoud and board member Travis Padget were the “no” votes.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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