In a 4-2-1 vote, Thursday the school board rejected a motion by Brian Atkinson to enter into a three-year lease agreement on the Williams' property for the location of the new bus garage. Atkinson and Tina Heffner voted for the motion, while President Ted Jackson, Terry Barr, Jennifer Kaelber and Forrest Buell were against. Board member Dottie King abstained from the vote.
When INSafe, a division of the Indiana Department of Labor, visited the Quonset hut Feb. 15, they found 21 standards were not being met.
"We have since rectified all but five, and four are big ticket items," Clay Community School Corporation Supt. Dan Schroeder said. "We have estimates that the cost would be about $67,000-$70,000. They gave us until the end of April to address these issues or ask for an extension."
"In my opinion, the options as presented reflect the long-term plan fixing the short term when you look at the long-term arrangements," Heffner said. "Why waste $70,000 when you can put that for a long-term plan for 20-30 years."
CCSC Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger told The Brazil Times the four costly violations at the Quonset hut include rewiring the entire building, providing fire-rated enclosure for welding equipment, providing fire-rated enclosure for flammable liquids and railing with an approved stairway leading to the storage areas. Reberger was asked by the board to look into the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) codes to see if the building could be used for storage and the cost to remove the building.
Though Atkinson and Heffner liked the idea of leasing the property with the intention to buy and making improvements, Reberger and other board members were concerned with the capital improvements made to the property staying with the property, which could result in an inevitable waste of money.
"It does concern me," King said. "If we make those capital improvements, we are at the mercy of the selling price at the end of three years or five years, and we are at the mercy of the what's going to happen with real estate prices."
King went to explain how she can see Reberger's view that buying a property outright would allow the corporation to know exactly what it has to work with, and there would be no potential for forfeiting any of the improvements made.
Though Buell asked for an extension on the agenda item until the new board members are present at the July meeting, the board had to clarify that INSafe would not allow them to wait that long without an extension.
After the vote, board members were asked by the administration what steps should be taken next.
"We need to act on something," Schroeder said. "We are at the point now where we can't wait anymore. The administration has to do something because the time clock is running on this April date, unless if we are lucky enough to get an extension."
The board agreed to not do anything to the Quonset hut that requires a big cost, ask for an extension and pay the fine. The board agreed to have a special session at a later date to discuss the situation.
It was during future agenda items where Atkinson brought more ideas to the table with a discussion concerning the contracting out the maintenance on the buses, and what should be done with the million dollars in the rainy day fund for a bus garage.
"Clearly, we are not going to agree on what we need to do," he said. "So we need to look at all the alternatives, every one of them."
As the meeting closed, it was the words said by Atkinson at the beginning of the discussion, which were on the minds of those in attendance.
"Here is the problem as I see it," Atkinson said. "There is no one perfect property. At some point, we have to do something."