The Moore County Commissioners have decided to abstain from taking any action on the Moore County Board of Education’s decision not to pursue a bid bond forfeiture from Clancy and They’s Construction after the contractor withdrew the apparent winning bid for the new Southern Pines Elementary School after they discovered a math error totaling almost $1.4 million.

A bid bond in North Carolina is a surety bond which guarantees that the bidder will enter into and complete the agreement according to its terms. Usually, a contractor will forfeit the bid bond if the bid is withdrawn after a 72-hour window has closed.

After an extended discussion, the school board decided not to pursue the bid bond citing the likelihood of prolonged and expense ligation. The school board has endured some very vocal criticism over this decision.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Moore County Commissioner Chairman Frank Quis read a statement on behalf of the entire board. 

“The school board faced very difficult decisions inclusive of pursuing the $1.5 million bid bond.” The statement continued “that commissioners have no legal authority to approve/disapprove the school board’s action because they are a separate legal entity with separate legal representation.”

On March 19 of this year, the Board of Commissioners adopted a formal resolution refusing to provide additional funding above the $103 million bond approved by voters last year. These reversed an early decision to provide the funding.

In justifying the reversal, the board cited the need to follow the will of the voters and to maintain the public trust in the board as being critical factors in their reversal. The new school is slated to open in 2020 and will combine the current populations of Southern Pines Primary and Elementary Schools.

The Board of Education also presented their official budget request for the upcoming fiscal year.

The total request is $125.3 million and represents a request for increasing local funding by $4.2 million for a total of $35.2 million. The balance of the budget is provided by state funding ($75.5 million) and federal funding ($7.4 million).

You can find a detailed breakdown of the budget on the Moore County Schools’ website.

In recent years, Moore County Schools have gained 465 students. In that same period, the state cut funding for over 100 teaching and assistant personnel.

“The school board attempted to shield the schools and staff from the effects of many of these cuts by utilizing the local fund balance, cutting programs and additional support personnel,” according to Moore County School Board Chairman Helena Wallin-Miller.

She went on to state that the school board realizes this is a big ask and beyond the ability of the county to meet in full. “Just please do your best,” she asked the board in conclusion.

The commissioners next meeting will be May 21 at 5:30 p.m.

Feature photo courtesy of Moore County.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Local News/Government Reporter Chris Prentice. 
   Contact him at chris@sandhillssentinel.com or (910) 639-9303.

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