IOW school board rescinds bid for new roof

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Isle of Wight County’s School Board has rescinded its approval of a bid by Air Tech Solutions to replace Windsor Elementary School’s roof. This comes after learning the company had omitted a line item from its proposal that would have increased the cost of the project by several hundred thousand dollars.

The board made this decision during its regular scheduled meeting last Thursday evening after Marty Callender, the division’s director of support services, informed the members of the error. Callender said he learned of the error after Air Tech Solutions representatives informed him of their mistake. The company had originally bid $597,600 for the project, which the board accepted in October. However, had the additional cost been included in the original bid, Air Tech Solutions would not have been the lowest bidder.

As part of the board’s decision, all other bids made for the project will also be rejected and the division will put out a new request for proposals for the entire project.

“The fairest thing to do for all parties is to reject and allow all parties to re-bid so it’s apples to apples,” Callender said.

In other business, he announced that progress has been made on the hydroponic containers, lighting and fans in the Windsor High School greenhouse, but that the facility is not yet operational and has no expected completion date as of yet. Callender also announced that he and other division representatives recently traveled to Newport News to see the prototype adjustable welding table manufactured by the Liebherr Construction Equipment Company. The business will donate several of these tables to Windsor’s new welding lab.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Lombardo then presented on the division’s new field trip policy, which allocates a division-wide budget of $120,000 for field trips, divided among each of the schools based on a per-pupil allocation. This allows students to be able to participate in most if not all field trips without paying. Lombardo said that in the event a school would exhaust its allocation of field trip funds, it would be permitted to revert to the division’s previous policy of holding fundraisers or charging students for the additional unfunded trips.

The board concluded by discussing a new program called Uplift Academy, the goal of which would be to reach students entering middle or high school who are struggling. The idea for such a program originated when division staff calculated that approximately 76 percent of its students in ninth grade had failed two or more Standards of Learning tests and that roughly 53 percent had failed three or more SOLs.

“We are a very good school system; we’re fully accredited, but still in those cracks are actual students,” Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton explained. “No one likes to admit this. We have to acknowledge that we’re not reaching everyone.”

Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of gifted services, community and media relations, said the division had started looking at data for individual students who had not passed two or more SOLs to see if there were any common characteristics such as discipline or attendance rates. The results showed that 19.6 percent of these students had been suspended for more than five days, to include both in-school and out-of-school suspensions, 49 percent missed 10 or more days from school, and 52.9 percent came from economically disadvantaged households.

Thornton said that the goal of the Uplift Academy program would be to develop a curriculum and supports to meet the needs of these struggling students starting in sixth grade for middle schoolers and ninth grade for high schoolers, and to continue those supports through graduation.

Part of the program is expected to be funded with Title IV federal funds, in the amount of $16,818.43.

“It won’t completely fund it, but it will be put toward the program,” Briggs said. “It is the amount the federal government has said we are eligible for.”

The committee tasked with creating recommendations for such a program will likely present their plan in January 2018, along with what impact it may have on the division’s budget.