May 22, 2018
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School Board OKs amended purchase policy, tables school chief vote

By Alex Lear, The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted 6-2 Monday for an amended policy on district bidding and purchase requirements.

The amendments include a stipulation that competitive bidding or a request for proposals process must occur for purchases of more than $35,000, an increase from the former $25,000 threshold.

A paragraph in that section had stipulated that the superintendent “may forgo the competitive bid or RFP process only when he/she determines that quality, expertise, time factors, or other important considerations outweigh the possible benefits of bidding or requesting proposals. In each such case, the Board shall be informed of the Superintendent’s decision and the reasons for it in advance of entering into a contract.”

That paragraph was amended to state that the Finance Committee must vote to approve the superintendent’s decision in such cases, with the full School Board to be notified of the decision.

Board member Virginia Dwyer, who voted with co-Chairman Jeff Porter against the policy amendment, said she wanted a clause included that allowed for emergencies. She questioned what would happen if a catastrophic occurrence like a gaping hole in a roof needed to be addressed immediately, and Finance Committee members could not be reached.

The policy discussion was a response to the district’s recent purchase of school security equipment, which Superintendent Robert Hasson presented as a $50,000 to $60,000 expense that ultimately grew to nearly $276,000.

Later in Monday’s meeting the School Board met for more than 2 1/2 hours in executive session to evaluate Hasson. The panel was then to vote whether to authorize negotiation of a contract extension with him, but it opted 6-2 to table that decision. No date has been set for the matter to be addressed again.

Two years remain in Hasson’s current contract, which was extended a year ago.

Board member Jim Moulton, who voted with co-Chairman Bill Richards against delaying the decision, said Tuesday that he thought tabling would be “the wrong message to send to the public, that we’re kicking this thing down the road.”

Richards said “I (thought) it was important for the board to address the question at hand at that time.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story requires correction. The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted 5-2, with one abstention, not 6-2, Monday for an amended policy on district bidding and purchase requirements.

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