Cheryl Franklin

Grove Sun

The Grove School Board hired a new Lower Elementary school principal and rejected bids for the masonry portion of the new Grove Upper Elementary School during a regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

The board approved the employment of Kelly Trumbull, who currently works as an administrative assistant at the Lower Elementary, as the new principal. Trumbull replaced Sandy Harper whose contract as the new District Superintendent was also approved during the meeting.

Harper was hired to replace Tom Steen as the new superintendent.

The bids, opened by Nabholtz Construction Services and presented to the board, also included bids on the electrical and plumbing portions of the project and a separate bid for a telephone and data system.

The lowest bidder on the masonry project inadvertently miscalculated the number of cement blocks needed for the project and was disqualified. The second lowest bid was $420,000, which was $100,000 more than the estimated budget for the project. Board members and former superintendent Tom Steen, who sat on his last board meeting, said they were concerned that by accepting the bid they would be over budget too early in the project. The cost would also prohibit including some of the alternate options in the project such as the covered walkway between the gym and the classrooms, a sink for the art room, new lockers and lawn sprinklers.

Nabholtz Project Manager Bob Huckleberry said he had never been involved with a project where the owners asked for new bids. However, he said he didn’t see why it couldn’t be done. He warned that the new bids could come in even higher and that the present bidders may not even submit new bids because their “competitive edge” would be gone since the bids were already made public.

Huckleberry added that they will have to advertise for new bids and that the process will take at least three weeks before new bids can be opened.

Chairman Dr. James Rutter cast the only nay vote for the plan.

The telephone and data project also came in more than $135,000 over the estimated cost. However, Huckleberrry told the board that the system was necessary to keep up with technology and would save the school money in the future because the system would already be installed.

The board thanked Tom Steen for his many years of service as the superintendent and received applause from those present.

Steen resigned this spring after initially not having his contract renewed by the board. A lawsuit prompted the board to rescind the non-renewal and accepted Steen’s resignation with a severance package.

In other business, the board authorized the superintendent to dispose of a list of surplus items, approved several revisions to the site handbook, renewed the contract for worker’s compensation, renewed lease-purchased of cafeteria equipment, tables, library media center and computer lab equipment, approved the special services agreement with Head Start and contracts with two drug testing laboratories.

The board also voted to approve a list of substitute teachers for the 2009-10 school year.

A special meeting will be held on June 22 at 6 pm in the middle school library.