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Board is asked to reopen bidding

A representative from a construction company asked the McDuffie County Board of Education Tuesday to postpone its vote on the selection of a construction management firm.

Tom Goodyear, a senior project administrator for R.W. Allen of Athens, Ga., said he did not see the advertisement for bids in the local newspaper. Because of that, local construction firms were not able to bid, Goodyear said.

The McDuffie County School District had not run the advertisement in the legal organ, The McDuffie Progress, Superintendent Jim LeBrun said. But it had run on the school district's Web site, he said.

"That firm (R.W. Allen) has to accept some of the blame," LeBrun said. "We're not aware of local firms who are capable of handling this work."

An amendment to Georgia law allows a government entity the option of putting the bid advertisement on a Web site for four weeks in lieu of in the legal organ newspaper, said David Hudson, the attorney for the Georgia Press Association and The Augusta Chronicle. The notice must also be posted in a governmental office, which LeBrun said was also done.

"The fallacy of allowing Internet advertising is demonstrated by your article," Hudson said in an e-mail. "R.W. Allen, one of the very best construction companies in the state, ... was not in the mix of bidders."

R.W. Allen is the contractor on the McDuffie County Courthouse.

A committee of LeBrun, Facilities Director Charles Hurst and Comptroller Tom Smalley selected Parrish Construction Group of Perry, Ga., from four bids. Its duties include devising a five-year plan to build a new elementary school and to renovate the Brickyard, Thomson's football stadium. LeBrun said the school district used the same process to select the architect for the construction and received 14 bids.

Board President Greg Derry asked what reopening the process would entail. LeBrun said it would cause a two-month delay and he would have to ask legal counsel if it could be done.

In other discussions:

- The school district will run a $100,000 deficit in its fuel budget this year because of soaring gasoline prices, LeBrun said. "We're building $5 gallon for fuel in the budget for the coming year," he said. "We've placed a moratorium on field trips."

- LeBrun addressed Gov. Nathan Deal's proposal to reduce funding for pre-K. It would mean a 10 percent salary cut and 20 furlough days for teachers and a class increase from 20 to 22. "It really affects our kids and parents," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011

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