EM schools save $130,000 on HVAC contract

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Board of Education has saved $130,000 by accepting a bid for a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning contract from a different vendor.

The Elk Mound school board accepted the low bid from J.F. Ahern Company for just shy of $129,000 for a three-year contract at the May 20 meeting.

The Ahern contract works out to be $43,000 per year.

The previous three-year contract had been with Trane, which had increased from $45,000 to $65,000 last year.

Trane submitted a bid this time around of nearly $259,000, or about $86,000 per year, leaving Board of Education members and administrators feeling a bit of sticker shock.

“I have concerns about the big difference in the bids,” said Dr. Ron Walsh, district administrator.

Trane has been an “excellent provider,” he noted.

Bartingale Mechanical submitted a bid of a little over $153,000 or about $51,000 per year.

The other two companies that submitted bids have not been established in maintenance in this area as long as Trane, although Ahern and Bartingale have both been in business for quite a while, with Ahern being in business for over one hundred years, Dr. Walsh said.

The Ahern representative for this area previously worked for Trane, he said.

Loren Hanson, school board member, wondered if Trane raised the rates because company representatives know what it takes to keep up the Elk Mound HVAC system.

The Elk Mound system is now balanced and working properly, “so actually their time on site should go down and become lower every year,” Dr. Walsh said, adding that Trane is a large corporation, and because the business is so large, the company’s expenses may be higher.

The Elk Mound school district also has a contract with the Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) to continually monitor the district’s energy use, said Tim Sivertson, Board of Education president.

By using Ahern, the school district will be able to keep the cost down while at the same time using “someone who knows the Elk Mound system,” he said.

Several school board members wondered about an option for getting out of the contract.

The Trane contract allows withdrawal after a 30-day notice; Bartingale also would allow Elk Mound to withdraw from the contract, Dr. Walsh said.

Ahern does not have an escape clause, he said, adding that he could negotiate with Ahern and ask for 30 or 45 days notice to allow terminating the contract.

The Elk Mound Board of Education accepted the low bid from Ahern and authorized Walsh to negotiate the escape clause.

Hanson and Sivertson, along with Board of Education members Jim Holte, Margaret Dieter and Gary Bodenburg voted to approve the low bid from Ahern.

Board of Education member Bill Moore voted against the motion.

School board member Kyle Jenson was absent from the meeting.

Other business

In other business, the Elk Mound Board of Education:

• Recognized Sarah Larson for her Notable Education Contribution. Larson teaches Language Arts at Mound View Elementary and has been in the district for five years.

• Approved the district’s technology plan. The plan is meant to be adjusted as needed, said Eric Hanson, principal at Mound View Elementary.

• Approved continuing membership with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). The approval comes up annually.

• Learned that Dr. Walsh is working on the budget for 2013-2014 and will provide preliminary numbers to the Board of Education in July.

• Approved open enrollment applications for the school district representing potentially 136 students enrolling into the district and 67 enrolling out of the district.

• Approved renewing the dental plan with Delta Dental.

• Accepted the resignation of Kelly Michels, who has been a teacher in the district for three years.

Following a closed session, the Elk Mound Board of Education:

• Approved hiring Ben Robertson as a special education teacher.

• Approved hiring Brandon Powell as a middle school teacher. Powell is an Elk Mound graduate.

• Approved hiring Dylan Pronschinske as a high school math teacher.

• Approved increasing the employment of Krista Hass, high school math, from part-time to full-time.

• Approved hiring Jennifer Solberg as a part-time high school food service worker.

• Approved hiring Wendy Erdman as a part-time middle school food service worker.

• Approved salary adjustments for support staff of about 2 percent.

• Approved an updated extracurricular salary schedule. Several new assignments have been added to the schedule.

• Approved teacher salary advancements and promotions for all teachers except two, leaving one salary frozen and one salary reduced.

• Approved administrative salary advancements of about two percent.