img_9159Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

Despite a change in contractors working to replace the Highlands gym roof, the project should still be completed before the worst of winter hits the county.

During a special called meeting of the Board of Education last week, Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin read a letter from Kyle Ledford of KL Metals withdrawing their bid on the renovation project.

Dr. Baldwin informed board members that, “I have a letter here from KL Metals that says, ‘The purpose of this letter is to inform you that KL Metals is withdrawing its bid for the new roof on the Highlands School Gym. I regret that KL Metals will not be performing the work, but hope that circumstances will permit my company to be of service to Macon County Schools in the future.’

“I’d just like to say that I’m disappointed that KL Metals is withdrawing the bid,” said Dr. Baldwin. “I was really excited to have a local roofer that was able to bid on this project. He came highly recommended with very solid references. He stood to save the county a lot of money, if he had been able to stay in this bid.”

The Macon County Board of Education unanimously approved the $217,171.54 bid by KL Metals last month. Macon County Schools had even paid KL Metals $110,000 for materials and to begin the project, but when KL Metals applied for permits on the project with the county’s planning department, they were denied because they weren’t a licensed contractor. By state statute, to bid on a project over $30,000, one must be a licensed contractor.

During the August board meeting of the school board, before approving KL Metals’ bid, board members asked if the bid met the school board’s specification and MCS auxiliary services director Todd Gibbs assured the board that they did. The school board’s specification sheet when soliciting bids did not specifically state bidders had to be licensed contractors, but rather the requirement falls as a state mandate.

If the school board elected to do, they could potentially pursue legal charges against KL Metals as it is a Class 2 misdemeanor for a company to bid on a contract for which they are not qualified. But with KL Metals withdrawing their bid, and working with the new company, Benton’s Roofing of Flat Rock, to provide the already ordered materials and returning the rest of the already paid out $110,000, legal action is unlikely.

The continued problems with the gymnasium roof date back more than a decade when the roof had not been properly installed initially. Benton’s Roofing bid on the project will bring the new renovations to $249,000.

During a recent work session, the board of education had decided to seek additional funds from the county for the roof renovation project. Originally, Board of Education chairman said that there was $100,000 withheld by the county for the original roof replacement project in 2006, and because the county withheld that money, the school system was entitled to ask the county to ask for additional money over the $200,000 already allocated by the county for the project. During a joint facilities review committee last Tuesday, County Manager Derek Roland showed where the original contract with the roof was between the school system and Sheanaut Construction.

“We have been asked why we were withholding $100,000 from the school system, and I don’t think that is fair or accurate,” Commissioner Ronnie Beale said to members of the school board.

Roland showed receipts where the project was completed in August 2005 and the final payout of $70,000 was requested by the construction company. From August 2005 until May 2006, it is unclear where the project stood. A final payout was submitted to the county on May 16, with an architect certifying the work, and the county cut a check for the project on May 18, 2006, completing the project.

“We never withheld any funds from the project or from the school board,” said Roland.

Superintendent Dr. Baldwin agreed with Roland and noted that after speaking with Macon County Schools Attorney John Henning Jr., the school system agreed that no funds were withheld, although they had believed so for the last year.