Purchasing Changes Clear First Reading

WINNSBORO – Proposed changes to the Fairfield County School District’s Procurement Code cleared first reading by the School Board Tuesday night on a 6-0 vote with no discussion. Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) made the motion to accept first reading of the changes to the District’s purchasing policy, adding that a more detailed discussion should be held before second reading and after Board members had had time to digest the new policy.

The amended code ups the threshold for bidding procedures from $25,000 to $50,000 and shortens the amount of time in which contracts are to be awarded from 30 to 14 days. Under the proposed changes, purchases not over $2,500 may be secured without a bid, up from $1,500 under the previous wording of the code.

J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, said the revised code will give the District more flexibility in dealing with local and minority owned businesses when making purchases and awarding contracts, and language defining “minority” and “socially disadvantaged” persons has been removed from the proposed code and replaced with language indicating that the District will adhere to the certifications of the S.C. Small and Minority Business Assistance Office when making those considerations.

“This will give us some latitude on doing some business with some of our local vendors,” Green said. “This gives us the opportunity to solicit quotes from some of our local vendors. It is very difficult for some of our local vendors to compete with some of the larger businesses.”

Green notified the Board that a great deal of surplus kitchen equipment, which the District has been sitting on for more than 18 months, has been sold through auction. The sale of the 53 pieces of kitchen equipment netted the District $18,343.91, Green reported, which will go into the food service account.

McDaniel pointed out that the replacement equipment, which cost the District nearly $1 million under former Superintendent Patrice Robinson, was purchased with money from the general fund and asked Green if proceeds from the sale of the old equipment could go back into that account. Green said it was a matter he would have to investigate.

The Board also gave the OK to a list of student fees, including a $20 lab fee, $13 for membership into the Future Business Leaders of America, $20 for membership into SkillsUSA (a student leadership organization for Career and Technology School students) and $25 for membership in the National Honors Society. The membership fees are all elective, Dr. Claudia Edwards noted, but McDaniel questioned why students in Fairfield County Schools were ever put upon to pay any fees whatsoever.

“With all the money we have in this District and all the money that we have coming in from V.C. Summer (Nuclear Station),” McDaniel said, “if there is any way possible, our students shouldn’t have to be paying these fees. Or there should be a very, very reduced amount of fees. We have money going back into the general fund, yet we are taxing our students again on top of the taxes they already pay.”

Green said he agreed, but added that he has largely left pre-existing fees in place since he began his tenure in Fairfield. He would, he said, explore the possibility of reducing or eliminating fees in the future.