With one its most outspoken board members at the helm, the Cape Girardeau School district started approving contracts related to the recently approved $40 million bond proposal.
During a special organization meeting Monday, re-elected board member Paul Nenninger was elected president of the school board. He beat the board's former vice president, Stacy Kinder, in a split vote. Luther Bonds, a second-year member, was elected vice president.
During regular session, the board approved two contracts related to the districtwide construction and renovation project. Local architect Phillip Smith was chosen as lead architect for the overhaul of buildings. Smith worked with the district for the last year and a half to develop its facilities plan, the blueprint for the proposal.
Nenninger, who raised several issues with the bond proposal before the board approved it for the ballot, continued asking questions about district decisions. He asked how Smith was initially chosen and if other firms were considered.
"In this case, it seems the district's mind was made up early," he said.
Neil Glass, director of administrative services, said the district previously worked with Smith and he offered to help with the facilities plan from its inception.
"I liked the way he worked," Glass said. "He offered to help with the facilities plan, and that's how it evolved."
Superintendent Dr. Jim Welker said the district never promised it would grant him the contract in exchange for his voluntary services.
"We had worked with him in the past and he stepped forward," Welker said.
Glass said Smith will partner with Bond Wolfe, a St. Louis firm, to complete architectural services. Three firms were interviewed for the supplemental services, he said.
"There was competition among the partnerships," Glass said.
Bond Wolfe will handle the larger projects, including the auditorium, event stadium and Franklin Elementary. Smith will work on other projects at the elementary schools, Glass said.
He said Smith will be compensated according to a percentage of hard construction costs, which is about $32 million. The percentage has not been negotiated, he said.
As lead architect, Smith will oversee services from Bond Wolfe and Strickland Engineering, which also worked on the bond proposal.
Smith's contract was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Nenninger and Dr. Steve Trautwein voting against the measure.
The board also approved a $22,500 contract with Koehler Engineering to conduct geotechnical services. Board member Tony Smee abstained from the vote due to a professional relationship, but all other members approved the contract.
During a special work session earlier in the evening, Welker updated the board on the district budget, which is facing cuts from the state. In addition to sluggish sales tax revenue, the district faces a $128,000 reduction in its June payment from the state, a 2 percent cut.
"As we have told you previously, it is our intention to balance the budget," Welker said.
He outlined measures district staff are taking to achieve the goal. Staff salaries will be frozen at their current level. He said he is working with building administrators to evaluate open positions that could be eliminated through attrition and cut 10 percent from supply and purchased service costs. Two Parents as Teachers positions will be cut, saving the district $75,000.
In other action, the board:
* Approved a lease agreement with Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers Community College. The two are part of a higher education center partnership and will rent four rooms at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center and two science labs at Cape Girardeau Central High School. The contract starts May 1 and will continue until Aug. 9, 2011. Monthly rent will be $250 with an additional $10 fee per class period.
* Appointed Smee as delegate to the state Missouri School Boards' Association Delegate Assembly.
* Swore in Nenninger and first-year member Phil Moore.
* Approved hiring a default management specialist for the Career and Technology Center at $24,851 per year.
* Approved the transportation contract with First Student for the 2010-2011 school year. The company did not charge a rate increase.
* Approved an application to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for qualified school construction bonds, available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
* Approved health and physical education curriculum.
301 N. Clark Ave. Cape Girardeau, MO