Board chooses repairs for hut
After months of discussion the Clay Community School Board of Trustees has finally decided on a short-term solution for its Transportation Department.
In a 3-2-1 vote, the school board accepted the motion made by Tina Heffner to spend approximately $75,000 to fix the remaining violations that INSafe, a division of the Indiana Department of Labor, found when it visited the Quonset hut Feb. 15. This would require the administration to ask for an extension on the trailer currently in place on the lot.
Brian Atkinson and Jennifer Kaelber joined Heffner in voting for the motion while President Ted Jackson and Dottie King were against. Board member Forrest Buell abstained from the vote and Terry Barr was not present.
Before the vote was taken, the board and administration discussed the short-term and long-term alternatives.
Supt. Dan Schroeder told the board the extensions the corporation received were in place until June 28. If the bus garage had not been decided upon then, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could charge $7,000 per violation. However, when Transportation Director Frank Misner told the board the consequences of receiving a second write up, there was a noticeable reaction from the board.
"Anything that has already been written up by the Department of Labor, if they came in and we hadn't done anything, then it would be a $70,000 fine per violation," Misner said. "We still have three items on the INSafe that still need to be taken care of."
Though discussion ensued between fixing the Quonset hut or the Hughes Warehouse Building on West Knight Street, Heffner expressed her displeasure with some of the appraisals that have been done on the properties.
"Those two appraisals done on the Williams property were curb side, drive by and my understanding was the Wallace (property) was not," she said. "It has to be the same standard for everything across the board. If we want transparency and integrity for this corporation, then it has to be the same all across the board."
She continued to compare the information the board had received regarding the work done by appraisers between the different properties. Though Misner clarified the same appraisers did look at all the properties, Heffner was not pleased.
"Did they go into the Williams property? No they did not," she said. "I don't know who is responsible about that, but it is an atrocity. That is wrong. We get this mixed information to the board and now we are paying more money and we are in trouble with different fines. This all could have been taken care of months ago.
"That is what I want for this corporation is transparency and information that is available and for the public to see. It is their money," she continued. "We hire people to do their job with integrity to be able to see what is going on. We are all responsible for that, it doesn't matter what area you work in the world. There is responsibility and accountability and documentation that has to take place."
Atkinson suggested tabling the issue until the new board took office in July and explaining to INSafe the situation and that they are working to resolve the issue, not everyone agreed.
"This has gone on longer than it needs to go on," Jackson said. "I am just as frustrated as the next guy. What I feel badly about, as a board member, is we asked for the inspection to be done and we still have three big ones and now we could be slapped with $7,000 per fine or $70,000 if we have an inspection."
Jackson reminded board members they asked for the inspection and they were voted into their positions by the public to make hard decisions.
"Since we've asked for that safety inspection, the board has made no decisions and it has taken a lot of time. It troubles me that we are all in limbo when we are supposed to be the ones making decisions," he said. "I would really like for us to consider some type of short term decision here."
Though more discussion ensued over leasing a location while work was being done on the Quonset hut or to lease property instead of working on the hut, the motion made by Heffner stood and the vote passed.
The current board agreed to table the issue of the long-term bus garage location until the new board begins in July.