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EACS OKs $95,000 Woodlan change order

NEW HAVEN – The East Allen County Schools board narrowly approved a costly change order to move forward with its Woodlan building project.

The order was recommended by the project architect RQAW and totals $95,000. It includes removing and disposing of soil unsuitable for the construction site and other required changes and updates to meet local codes, said Kirby Stahly, EACS assistant superintendent for administrative services and business management.

The total will come out of a $430,000 contingency fund the district set aside after the project bids came in under budget to allow for unknown items that might come up during the project.

Some board members expressed concerns about spending that amount of the contingency fund so early in the project, which began last September.

A K-12 campus will be built at the current site of Woodlan Junior-Senior High School. It's scheduled to be completed in June 2014. The project is part of a redesign plan approved by the board in 2010 to address funding challenges and declining enrollment.

Stahly said the order was reviewed by the district's legal counsel.

Board vice president Chris Baker, who manages an architectural firm, said he was uncomfortable approving the order because he had received the information last minute and had a number of questions.

"I have a lot of concerns with this, quite honestly," he said.

Board member Bob Nelson also said he didn't believe he had enough information to make a decision.

Nelson, Baker and board member Arden Hoffman opposed the motion. It passed in a 4-3 vote. Neil Reynolds, Stephen Terry, Terry Jo Lightfoot and Bill Hartman voted for it.

Also during its meeting Tuesday, the board revisited a motion it had tabled at its previous meeting.

Board members agreed unanimously Tuesday that it would not allow the district to hire outside the district to fill an administrative position in the special services department. Members believed the position should be filled by the district's new superintendent. Former superintendent Karyle Green left the district March 1. The board decided not to hire an interim replacement.

Previously, members of the administration urged the board to OK advertising the job opening because, by the time a new superintendent is in place this summer, many of the good candidates for the special services job would be unavailable or unwilling to take the job because of too little time would be left before the start of the school year.

The board will leave it to the administration to decide whether to have other administrators fill the duties of the position or hire someone from within the district to fill the position. Member Arden Hoffman emphasized that someone is expected to fulfill the duties of the position for the start of the school year.