Kanawha County Board of Education President Jim Crawford - F. Brian Ferguson, Gazette-Mail

By: Ryan Quinn, Staff Writer | Posted: April 19, 2018 | Source: WV Gazette-Mail

The Kanawha County Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to close Bridge Elementary, buy a roughly $147,000 charter-type bus and spend another $147,000 to replace Riverside High’s gym floor.

And without explanation during the meeting, other than that the issue would reappear later, the school board removed from its meeting agenda a planned vote on paying $339,000 to Baltimore, Maryland- and Fairmont-based Reclaim Company, LLC to demolish Herbert Hoover High’s former building.

The former buildings for Hoover and Clendenin Elementary were closed after damage from the June 2016 flood. No one showed up last week to speak at the board’s closure hearing for Bridge, which didn’t close after the flood but is planned to be consolidated with Clendenin to create a new school.

The closure and consolidation are effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year, or as soon thereafter as the new school is completed. The state Board of Education ultimately approves closings and consolidations.

According to a document in Thursday’s agenda packet, the other bids to demolish Hoover were $383,000 from Charleston-based Rodney Loftis & Son Contracting, $663,000 from Huntington-based American Energy Contractors and $852,000 from Elkview-based Capitol Valley Contracting Inc.

When asked why he requested that the board remove the demolition item from the agenda, board President Jim Crawford said “right now I’m not at liberty to discuss that, there was a glitch in the contract, that’s all I’m going to say. We’ll get it back on there, there was just a couple things that didn’t come together.”

He did note the roughly $500,000 gap between the highest and lowest bid. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is expected to pay for about three quarters of the demolition, requires acceptance of the low bid.

“But we’ll get it straightened out, FEMA says we have to take the lowest bid, and there’s some discussion about what’s wrong,” Crawford said. He said not taking the lowest bid could mean FEMA taking money back from Kanawha years from now.

“That’s why we’re pulling it to make sure we do the right thing,” he said.

When pressed further on why the board didn’t today accept Reclaim’s low bid, he said “there is some discussion, OK, I don’t want to say what happened but there is some discussion, and we’ll get it worked out.” He didn’t provide much further detail, other than it appeared to him that high bidder Capitol Valley didn’t want to do the work.

The board purchased the bus from Worldwide Equipment. Transportation Director Brette Fraley suggested the bus could save thousands of dollars on single school trips.

“It’ll be our bus, our driver, our insurance,” Fraley said.

“Charter buses cost us much more money than what our local drivers use,” Crawford said.

Fraley said the bus can hold 46 students and could last 15 years, depending on how many miles are put on it. He said the school system already has one “transit bus” type activity bus that can seat 90 elementary schoolers.

He said he’d like to get perhaps up to eight activity buses in the future, perhaps buying one a year, to serve all eight high schools.

The board approved paying West Virginia-based R. M. Huffman $147,000 to replace the Riverside gym floor. The other bids were $162,000 from the same company, (Maintenance Executive Director Terry Hollandsworth said the purchasing department was able to negotiate the low bid down even further) and $172,000 from Cincinnati Flooring.

Crawford said the current floor is “just worn out.”

Also Thursday, the board approved transferring Kelli L. Epling from the Stonewall Jackson Middle/Title I curriculum assistant principal position to the curriculum assistant principal position at George Washington High, effective July 11. The board also hired Megan W. Goins as a professional accountant, effective April 30.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.comfacebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.