Millersburg to reconsider policy for purchases

Director says policy allows spending at will

By Rob Wheary, Staff Writer • csrobwheary@gmail.com

MILLERSBURG – The Millersburg Area School Board will look at a policy that essentially gives the district superintendent carte blanche when it comes to spending in certain areas.
While discussing the bills at their meeting on Nov. 21, board member Donald Harris discussed a $3,108 bill for blinds and curtains purchased for administrative offices after board member Ryan Novinger asked if three quotes were gotten on the matter.
According to Millersburg’s “Delegation of Responsibility” policy: All purchases that are within budgetary limits and the supplies needed for the daily operations of the school district may be made upon authorization of the Business Manager and/or Superintendent. Items not obtained yearly must follow the following guidelines:
— $10,000 or less – items that are big ticket items under $10,000 but over $3,000 will be listed in the budget;
— $10,001 to $19,100 – must get three quotes (either in writing or by telephone)
— $19,101 or more – must advertise for bids.
Harris expressed concern that Haupt was abusing the power to make any purchase he seems fit, the second time for in as many months.
“If it’s under $10,000 and its educationally required, and an emergency, spend it and get it done. If it’s not and blinds are certainly not, this board needs to be included in that and getting three quotes. We need to start doing it,” Harris said.
Board member Scott Roadcap said that the policy has been reviewed twice with no changes made. President Mark Rothermel noted that Harris was in charge of the policy committee at the time the policy was approved and asked if Harris endorsed it back then.
“I don’t believe I endorsed it,” Harris replied. “As committee chairman, I presented the policy to the board with the majority of the committee’s recommendations. I am asking for the meeting and if it comes great. If it doesn’t, then I will ask for it again when this problem arises again.”
Other board members expressed their thoughts on the policy as well. Morgan Wagner said that getting the three quotes in an emergency situation is impractical.
“I think it should go back to the committee so that we can find some common language to differentiate between a need for the continuing education of our student, or is it a need that can wait for the proper process to take place. How do you put that into the language? I don’t know,” said Bruce Kance, who noted that it was last looked at in 2014.
“I just have a hard time understanding why getting three quotes is such a difficult thing,” Harris reiterated. “It’s three phone calls.”
At the end of the discussion, Rothermel noted that there was no violation of the current policy, but requested that the policy committee meet to discuss the matter, and report back at the January board meeting. When the announcement was made, Roadcap asked to be removed from the committee.
“We’ve been down this road twice already,” Roadcap said. “I don’t need to go over it a third time.”
“I would ask you to stay on and attend the meeting, to state your position,” the board president asked of Roadcap.
Cheerleading discussed
At the start of the meeting, athletic director Jeffrey Prouse spoke to the board about competitive cheerleading.
Prouse said that the district went to a switch more into the competitive spirit side of cheerleading four years ago, but have only competed in one competition in four years. He told the board that Upper Dauphin’s athletic director Brent Bell approached him about a co-op program.
“Their numbers are down, our numbers are down. I’m a little leery about this because their director has not approached Upper Dauphin’s board on the matter,” Prouse said.
Superintendent Thomas Haupt said they had the discussion and decided this was a decision that they could not make administratively and looked to the Millersburg board for guidance.
After the discussion, many directors said that they would not even consider it if Upper Dauphin does not approach them about the matter.
In other business:
— District business manager Cathy Artz gave the board a timeline for the 2017-2018 budget with the first date of note being Jan. 26, 2017, when the board will have to either approve a resolution stating that it will approve a final budget with a tax increase not to exceed the adjusted index of 3.3 percent, or make a preliminary budget available for public inspection, subject to state approval, to request a tax increase higher than the index.
— The board voted to amend the school physician services agreement with Dr. John Forney and Family Practice Center, P.C. to add grade level physicals to the duties.
— Millersburg will hold its reorganizational meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, and its next regular board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19.

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