Marietta BOE will bypass renovation bids

MARIETTA – The Marietta City Board of Education on Monday agreed to bypass the formal competitive bidding process on a planned addition and renovation to Marietta High School aimed at improving security.

The board voted 5-0 at its regular meeting in the administration office to declare the project an “urgent necessity” pursuant to Ohio Revised Code and direct local firm DLH Design to solicit quotes from area contractors to have the work done over the summer and completed in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The project would build an addition to the Academy Drive side of the school, eliminating the need for some classes to be held in the nearby administration building, and add an enclosed walkway between the main building and the facility housing the gymnasium and auditorium. This would allow doors to be locked and access to the building better controlled during the school day.

“Unless they’re … going someplace other than Marietta High School, they won’t have to leave the building,” Superintendent Harry Fleming said.

Because the project involves the safety of students and staff and cannot be completed while school is in session, Fleming said it fits with the exemption allowed by law. Going through the regular bid process for projects that cost more than $25,000 might make it impossible to get the work done in time for the start of the next school year.

The resolution says DLH will seek quotes from area businesses who specialize in the type of work needed and recommend a contractor to the administrator based on the standard of the “lowest and best” bid.

“We value having local companies and local labor do these kinds of projects,” Fleming said.

Specs are still being developed by DLH, so a total cost estimate was not available Monday, said Dave Davis, facilities, transportation and safety director for the district.

In other business:

* The board unanimously approved a resolution opposing portions of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget.

One would provide a private or parochial school tuition voucher of up to $4,250 to incoming kindergarten students from families with a household income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of the academic performance or quality of the local school they would otherwise attend. Eligibility would expand to first-graders in fiscal year 2015.

A second provision would offer vouchers to students enrolled at schools that fail to meet the new Third-Grade Reading Guarantee for two years in a row, deducting $4,250 from resident districts for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and $5,000 for ninth- through 12th-graders.

Although the income level for the vouchers is lower than a bill that drew resistance from districts around the state in 2011, board member Don Atkins said it’s basically the same approach to shift money from public to private education.

“It’s really going to kill public education as we know it if they continue in the way they’re going,” he said.