Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times The Macon County Board of Education voted 3-2 to accept a $207,500 bid that will see 21 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units replaced at Macon County High School. Pictured (from left): board members Jed Goad, Wayne Marsh, Rebekah Tuttle and Bryan Nichols.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

The Macon County Board of Education voted 3-2 to accept a $207,500 bid that will see 21 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units replaced at Macon County High School.

Pictured (from left): board members Jed Goad, Wayne Marsh, Rebekah Tuttle and Bryan Nichols.

The Macon County Board of Education approved a $207,500 bid to replace 21 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units at Macon County High School with a 3-2 vote at its meeting last Thursday evening.

Board members were divided due to having less than a week to consider the options and a miscommunication involving the low bidder. Bransford Electrical & Mechanical Services, Inc., ultimately received the bid.

"The low bidder, Young Electric, did not include sales tax on the units in that price," Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles said, noting that their bid would have come out to $195,817.19. "The reason he didn't is that ... he called (Maintenance Supervisor) Randy (Robinson) on (April 8) before bids were due and asked him if he wanted to include it."

Robinson confirmed that he verbally told Young Electric not to include sales tax under the assumption that it was tax-exempt, and he apologized to the board and those in attendance.

"Had I given it more thought, I should have given him a different answer," Robinson said. "I'll take ownership for that mistake. However, I don't think it would be in our best interest to take that bid, because the equipment is ours when it comes in on the truck. The work as far as furnishing anything in the first year would be gone. The equipment still has warranty for its part, but we'd own it after it ships in."

Each bid submitted to the board had the same specifications, so the differences were in the cost and supplier. The units being replaced have been in use for approximately 20 years and are being updated in an effort to improve energy efficiency.

"We really can't fault them for not bidding a specific way if we didn't ask them to," board member Rebekah Tuttle said. "I'm not pleased with the bidding process for this, and I personally have not had enough time to settle on what I think is the best option because it just occurred Monday."

Board member Bryan Nichols voiced support for Bransford's bid since Young Electric is based out of Kentucky.

"I've always said I like to go local," Nichols said. "If (the amount is) close, I'll always push for the Lafayette bid. I feel like we owe it to our people who pay taxes and live here to try and help them out."

Nichols, board member Wayne Marsh and board chair Jeff Harper voted to approve the bid, while Tuttle and board member Jed Goad voted against it. The units are estimated to arrive within five to six weeks, and the goal is to have the build completed over the summer.

"We have (funding for the units) in this year's budget," Boles said. "We allotted $273,000 because we had a rough quote of $250,000 earlier in the year."

The board also voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing Gov. Bill Lee's proposal to bring education savings accounts into Tennesssee, which is currently being debated in the state legislature and could receive a final vote next week. Lee aims to set aside $75 million over three years to begin the program by the 2021-22 school year.

Since it was introduced, the bill has gone through several changes, but the latest Senate amendment (as of April 11) would permit up to 30,000 students in the six-lowest performing school districts, as well as the Achievement School District, to access funding for private schools or other education-related fees. The House bill would allow 15,000 students by 2026.

Opponents of the legislation are concerned that smaller public school districts in particular would have their funding impacted as a result, and the Macon County Board of Education does not expect any area students will be able to claim funding through the program.

"Right now, it's looking very likely that the ESA (education savings account) program is going to pass," Goad, who has been attending meetings regarding the process, said. "The Democrats are pushing for it. The Republicans are pushing it, because the governor's a Republican. Education and children aren't being put first. It's a political move."

The board approved the following items on the agenda:

Old Business

Discuss bids for HVAC units for Macon County High School

New Business

Approve to advertise for bids for resurfacing Macon County Junior High School gym floor

Approve donation to the Red Boiling Springs School football team (amended motion passed to donate $5,000 each to RBS and MCHS for field purposes and $1,500 to Red Boiling Springs for mat)

Approve proposal for professional services with TTL USA Civil Engineering for site development for MCHS, MCJHS and RBS additions

Approve proposal for geotechnical exploration for MCHS, MCJHS and RBS additions

Approve school bus behavior pamphletApprove to grant tenure for Michael Brown

Approve fundraiser requests for MCHS football, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and MCHS girls' soccer

Approve fundraiser request for Fairlane Elementary School

Approve resolution in opposition of ESA (education savings account) legislation

Approve textbook adoptions for the 2019-20 school year