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School Board Member Resigns

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Warren Believes District May Have Broken The Law Awarding Construction Bid

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Dave Warren has stepped down from the Glenwood Community School District Board of Education, citing personal concerns about a recent school board vote to award a construction contract to a company partially owned by a fellow member of the board.

     In his June 24 letter of resignation addressed to Glenwood Superintendent Devin Embray, Warren said, “I think that in order to be a good board member, you need to support all board decisions and the administration. As you know, I have recently been put in a situation where in order to do that, I would have to compromise my belief that the district needs to be consistent in following state code, as well as board policy no matter who it involves.”
    Warren’s letter does not elaborate on the specifics of the conflict but he said Monday the board’s decision to hire Blum Brothers Construction to build a new restroom and concession stand facility at A.C. Nuckolls Baseball Field is at issue. Blum Brothers Construction is co-owned by Dave Blum, a member of the school board, and his brother, Bob Blum.
    Blum Brothers was chosen over Allan Hughes Homes to carry out the bid at a June 10 board meeting. The winning bid was $61,500, while Hughes’ bid came in at $69,896.36.
    Blum abstained from voting in the bid selection process.
    Warren said he felt like the board did not follow state statute by hiring Blum Brothers and also violated its own policies.
    At the time of the vote, Warren voted for hiring Blum Brothers, but said Monday he assumed the board and district would clear up any conflict of interest and legal red tape before a final confirmation. Warren said neither the board nor the district did that to his satisfaction and said he believes they violated state law.
    Embray disagrees any state statutes were broken, calling the matter a procedural one concerning construction bids on the restroom/concession stand facility. The district had previously allotted $46,000 for the restroom/concession stand with a substantial amount of work donated by local contractors. But as the summer baseball season got underway, Embray said, many of those contractors who had offered to work at no cost were unable to donate time and costs ballooned to the currently projected $61,500 price tag.
    “I said, ‘OK, if we’re losing our labor and we can’t get it for under $46,000, then we’re going to get a stamped engineer’s sets of drawings anyway, so it’s OK to go over $46,000.” Embray said. “But, when we go over $46,000, that kicks in another set of protocols. That’s the rub right now. We didn’t catch it that we had to go to a different process once it was over that amount in the time we had working on the project.”
    Embray said he and the board did not discover the procedural “hiccup” until after retaining Blum Construction.
    “In looking at our policies this is something we would have to publicly invite bids for to make sure everything was legitimate,” he said. “The whole process we used was legitimate, but someone on the outside could say maybe it wasn’t and we’d have no back up for that.”
    Embray said he will recommend to the board Blum Construction continue working on the project while the board makes changes to its bid procedures.
    “I agree with Director Warren in that we did not follow our protocol procedures to the letter, whether or not that makes Blum Construction an invalid choice, I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Embray said. “I would say,  some of the issues Director Warren brought up were accurate and we have since revised our procedures and protocols.”
    Embray met with Warren for over an hour last week to discuss the matter and attempt to convince Warren to stay on the board.
    “I don’t think it was an easy decision for Dave,” Embray said. “I really think it was a tough one for him and I respect his decision to not continue on the board. We’ll miss him greatly and I wish he would reconsider.”
    Embray, the  board and the district’s legal counsel, Brett S. Nitzschke of law firm Lynch Dallas, met in a public meeting  Tuesday to discuss the procedures and consider future changes.
    The board will have 30 days from the date of Warren’s resignation to appoint a replacement. The seat will be put up for election in September.