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School board delays vote on interpreter services

August 05, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

In a split vote Tuesday, the Washington County Board of Education decided to postpone awarding a bid providing interpreter services to a contractor in Frederick, Md., so questions raised at the meeting can be answered.

The vote came after Harold Bible, executive director of Deafnet, protested during the meeting that his organization - which he says has provided interpreter services to the school board for 10 to 15 years - was not notified that the board was soliciting bids for the next school year.

Chief Operating Officer William Blum said the school board met the legal requirements by publishing an announcement that it was seeking bids on the school system's Internet site and in a trade journal.

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Communication Service for the Deaf of Frederick had the lowest of three bids for the contract to provide two interpreters for two students. The contract would cost the school system about $106,000, Blum said.

School board member Princeton Young said it sounded unfair to have a bidding process without notifying Deafnet, but the consensus of board members was that they could not rebid the contract since that would not be fair to the parties that did bid.

Roxanne Ober, the school board vice president, made a motion to delay approval of the bid until a cost benefit analysis was done showing why the board should use a contractor to provide interpreter services rather than hiring employees to do so.

The motion passed 4-3 with Board President Edward Forrest and board members Russell Williams and Bernadette Wagner voting against it.

Williams said he was concerned that the school system will not be able to get interpreters in time for the first day of school, which is Aug. 25.

After the meeting Forrest, said it was incumbent on Bible to see if the school system wanted to continue to use his company's services.

But Bible said he has been calling Michael Markoe, the new director of student services and special education, to ask about a new contract and he was not told until Tuesday that the contract had been put out for bids.

The company's contract expired on July 1, the first day of the current fiscal year, according to Bible.

Forrest said the school board probably will vote again on the contract at its Aug. 17 meeting.

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