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School district defends bond contract process
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Five Manteca Unified elementary schools are set to get a massive overhaul that will modernize aging buildings and enable the sites to serve students well into the future.
But how the contracts were handed out was questioned by a local man earlier this month who accused the district of not following the proper procedures when soliciting electrical, mechanical and plumbing bids from local companies.
According to Marcos Salas, the district acted improperly in executing the lease-leaseback agreement with contractors that allowed those three specialties to take bids behind closed doors without anybody legally being able to witness the bids.
But just the week before the district was instructed by legal counsel on the best way to proceed with the construction projects and the appropriate language was inserted into the text of the resolutions that were adopted 5-1 – with board member Sam Fant dissenting.
In the eyes of Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke, the issues were clearly spelled out by district counsel who made sure that everything was in compliance before it was finalized by the board.
And a district staffer pointed out that the bids themselves, while they may have been submitted from behind closed doors, don’t have to be held in public because of the lease-leaseback nature of the agreement.
“I think that any of our general contractors would be willing to share that information with the public if they were contacted at their office,” she said. “We have followed every single code that is required of us and it was all done under the direction of our attorney.”
The district’s attorney spoke with the unions specifically about the legalities of the move, which were strengthened by a California Education Code section that deals specifically with issues like the one discussed.