01STOCK_MILTONSCHOOLS01

MILTON

The Milton School Board on Monday tabled a decision to hire an owner’s representative to oversee referendum construction so board members could have a chance to review more information.

Mike Huffman of Huffman Facility Development would have been hired as the district’s owner’s representative if the 2017 referendum had passed, Superintendent Tim Schigur said.

The school board can choose to hire Huffman under an updated contract, open up the position to new bids or not hire an owner’s representative at all.

Schigur sent board members a proposed new contract from Huffman when he received it Monday afternoon. He said the contract contained a few changes in cost and dates.

Board member Brian Kvapil said he did not have time to review the contract and wanted the opportunity to read it over before voting.

Board member Karen Hall agreed. The board voted unanimously to table the hiring decision.

An owner’s representative is knowledgeable in design and construction and would oversee construction on projects included in the $59.9 million referendum approved April 2, Schigur said.

The representative would work on the project sites and make sure the district’s timeline and vision are being followed, he said.

The representative’s costs could be covered by referendum funds or with possible investment earnings as the district pays off its referendum bond, Schigur said.

Huffman’s updated contract has higher costs compared to the proposed 2017 contract, but the increase is “minimal,” Schigur said. He did not know what the increase was at Monday’s meeting.

Board members expressed interest in hiring an owner’s representative, but they agreed it was too soon to make any decisions.

The next steps for the district’s business services department were also discussed without action Monday.

The district’s finance and human resources committees on Friday identified two options for the business services office going forward: hire a new business manager to replace Mary Ellen Van Valin, who retired last month, or redistribute Van Valin’s duties among current staff members.

Schigur said he is confident current staff members, including Director of Administrative Operations Jerry Schuetz and accounting specialist Wendy LaPointe, are qualified to absorb the business manager’s responsibilities.

Schuetz has a business manager license through the state Department of Public Instruction, is a certified public manager, and has a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in educational leadership.

LaPointe is working on a master’s degree in school business management and a DPI business manager license.

Schigur said his opinions are recommendations only, and the decision on whether to hire a new business manager is up to the board.

Kvapil said he thinks it is a good idea to hire a new business manager. Board member Mike Pierce agreed, and board member Karen Hall said she needs more information but leans toward hiring a new business manager.

Board President Tom Westrick said he thinks the business department has talented staff who can take over the responsibilities.

Board members Joe Martin and Diamond McKenna both said they need to learn more before taking a stance.

In a memo, Schuetz said the district could save money by not hiring a new business manager.

Schigur said the district has included a business manager salary in next year’s early budget forecasting for the time being.

The position, including salary and benefits, could cost the district about $150,000.

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