VANDALIA — The Vandalia-Butler Board of Education voted 4-1 to enter into an agreement with Energy Optimizers, USA, LLC for the construction management firm for the school district’s renovation of the library building.
That renovation, which is expected to cost around $500,000, will become the new Board office in 2017 and the existing office will be demolished as part of the construction of the new Vandalia branch of the Dayton Metro Library.
The contract wasn’t approved without disagreement, however.
Board Member George Moorman offered to serve as the project’s construction manager at no cost to the district. Other board members, and district staff, objected, however, due to conflicts with state law and the possibility of a conflict of interest.
“There is no exchange of salary, so I don’t see the conflict (of interest),” said Moorman.
He said the cost of hiring an outside manager was the same as the salary of a teacher.
Board President Bruce Sucher reminded the board that the district’s attorneys said that Moorman’s idea was not allowed by law.
“Our legal counsel has said that even with no compensation a person holding two positions subservient to the other is a conflict of interest,” Sucher said. “The appearance of impropriety could be there and there’s a number of issues that quite frankly I can’t get past.”
Superintendent Bradley Neavin quoted from Board Policy on ethics and conflict of interest and noted he had sought multiple legal opinions.
“This move would open the board up for way too many liabilities, and board policy addresses this in many ways,” said Neavin. “I must caution the Board, collectively and individually, on taking any action that will subject the District to potential liability and/or public scrutiny.”
Moorman said that by knowing the subcontractors and the process due to his career in construction would bring “potential savings and the end result would be a savings.”
“I’m available to do what this board wants me to do,” he said.
Ultimately, the board rejected the suggestion but thanked Moorman for trying to save the district money.
“George, I think your heart is in the right place,” said Member Bob Cupp before joining the majority and voting for the agreement with Energy Optimizers.
In other action, the board approved several staff changes and the purchase of a 9-passenger van from Cardinal Sales and Service at a price of $42,856. The bid was received on the Southwest Ohio Education Purchasing Council.
The board also approved a trip for the Butler softball team to Destin, Florida over spring break. The trip will be at no cost to the district.
Finally, the board accepted the following donations:
- Binders for Butler High School from Horizon Primary Care, value $250
- A Gemeinhardt flute from Linda Sheline to the Vandalia-Butler Music Department, value $250
- Back packs with school supplies from Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
- $500 donation from the Vandalia-Butler Optimist Club to Helke Elementary first grade Muse Machine
- $100 from Warehouse 4 to the Vandalia-Butler Preschool
- $2,500 from The Matthew R. and Marie M. Hopkins Foundation to the school’s MD classrooms.