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Board still negotiating with Romano

Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2013 at 11:09 AM

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Contract negotiations with incoming School Superintendent Lori Romano are moving along and are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, according to School Board Chairman Matt Foreman, tasked by the board with negotiating the terms of her contract.

“I pledged to everybody I’d get a contract done, and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to get a contract done,” he said at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “Obviously, Director of Business Services Heather Martin and Dennis Alfonso have been leading the charge and doing a great job and I think negotiations are going to pick up rather substantially over the next few weeks.”

That’s because, at this point, the board is in the process of scheduling sit-down face-to-face meetings with Romano and her counsel.

“Now it’s time to look at each other across the table and hammer through everything,” Foreman said. “I know a lot of people are nervous about the way it’s going to break down, but I can assure you that everybody wants to get this contract done, so it’s going to get done.”

Romano makes a $95,765 base salary with a $3,600 doctoral supplement for a total salary of $99,365, she said. The superintendent position was advertised at an annual salary between $100,000 and $130,000 with negotiable fringe benefits and an anticipated start date of July 1.

The school board also approved more than $700,000 in contracts Tuesday, although not all of that money may be spent, as it was allocated on an “as-needed” basis with some of those services being for emergency situations.

Among them was the approval of the purchase and adoption of Common Core State Standards Edition of the previous board-approved enVision K-5 Mathematics Instructional Materials and issuance of purchase orders on an as-needed basis for approximately $250,238.80 — or $80,965.84 for the 2012-13 instructional materials and $169,272.96 for the 2013-14 instructional materials.

George Rubis, a music teacher who offered public comment Tuesday, said he had concerns that the $250,238.80 instructional materials, being purchased and approved per Common Core standards, could tie the district down to future expenses.

“Nothing is free,” Rubis said. “I saw this $250,000 and thought, ‘This doesn’t stop here.’

Superintendant Bryan Blavatt said the Common Core standards are part of the state’s directive to the district, and that on a six-year cyclical basis, schools approve and adopt instructional materials.

“We have to adopt in any way the math instructional materials, and if we choose to go with a different company it could be far more than this,” Blavatt said. “It could be $400,000.”

Blavatt said the reason the district is using the enVision K-5 Mathematics Instructional Materials is to continue the district’s investment in materials previously approved with an updated model, and one that is in accordance with Common Core standards, which are standards that 42 states participate in.

“Common Core standard preparation and implementation has been going on now for about three years,” Blavatt said. “The curriculums throughout the country in different districts in different states were not aligned, so what you were learning in U.S. History in Kentucky may not have been aligned with what you were learning in Florida.

“So (the federal government) said, ‘Let’s get a common core standard.’

Board member Gus Guadagnino asked Blavatt if the $250,238.80 instructional materials were comparable to a college textbook costing $300, when only one chapter is used.

“For years and years all the instructional materials were textbooks, and now there’s e-materials, workbooks and different mediums for instruction because students have different modalities and different ways of learning,” Blavatt said.

Blavatt also said “an abundance” of the materials may be online and in e-reader format.

The board also approved 4-0 the renewal of a bid for “Excavating and Sitework Contractors” to M. Daniels Construction Inc., for a one-year renewal term to authorize the purchase of excavating and sitework services not to exceed $300,000 annually.

“Recently, when we had the problem with the road cave-in at Nature Coast, this would be the company we go to under contract,” Blavatt said.

Guadagnino, who seconded the motion for approval, said he understood in private business when things are jumping and it’s hard to get contractors that one wants somebody available quickly to do the work.

“But doesn’t that eliminate our ability to get a competitive bid?” Guadagnino said.

Blavatt said the contract doesn’t mean the money has to be spent, but only saves the district in times of emergency, and that there are three different companies available to do excavation and sitework.

“Nature Coast is a good example, because if we had to wait to go to bid, we would have had a sinkhole you could fit a tractor trailer into,” Foreman said. “It’s an extreme example, but they do exist.”

The board also approved 4-0 the renewal of a bid for “Relocatable Buildings, Moving, Set-Up and Teardown Services” to A-Team Structural Moving Engineers and Above All Structural for a two-year renewal to authorize purchase of services not to exceed $200,000 annually.

“Are we looking at moving many this year?” board member Cynthia Moore asked. “I mean, some of them are so old they fall apart.”

“In some cases, the statement that they’re portable is a joke because they fall apart,” Blavatt said. “I don’t think we’ve moved two or three since I’ve been here.”

The school board also approved 4-0 a contract with IDEA Inc. to upgrade the district’s eAgenda software to support coding of board agenda items to the 2012-17 Strategic Plan and include a drop-down menu of summarized strategic focus area statements as part of the template for all board agenda items.

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