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Washington County BOE rescinds contract for new Bester Elementary kitchen equipment

New contract awarded to Hagerstown company

March 25, 2013

A contract to supply kitchen equipment for the new Bester Elementary School was rescinded after a Washington County Public Schools official decided there was insufficient evidence the firm made a good faith effort to achieve the Minority Business Enterprise participation goal, Purchasing Supervisor Lisa Freeman told the school board earlier this month.

The Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind the contract to Ashland Equipment, of Belcamp, Md., during its March 19 meeting.

Then the board voted unanimously to award the kitchen equipment contract to the next lowest responsive bidder, M.S. Johnston, of Hagerstown. M.S. Johnston had bid $202,000, compared with Ashton’s bid of $200,939, according to a presentation document. The increased cost to the school system from changing the contract is $1,061.

Bids for Bester’s construction and equipment were approved in September 2012.

Ashland had submitted its bid with a request for a full waiver from the 3 percent Minority Business Enterprise participation goal set for the kitchen equipment bid, according to a presentation document.

Freeman said the school system’s Minority Business Enterprise liaison determined Ashton had not met the standard of a good-faith effort required by the Minority Business Enterprise procedure, according to an online video of the board meeting. The liaison is Rob Rollins, the school system’s director of facilities planning and development, she said.

Anthony Trotta, the school system’s chief legal counsel, said if a contract doesn’t meet Minority Business Enterprise requirements, the state will not reimburse the school system for that contract. For this contract, that could have meant a potential loss of $30,000 in state funds, he told the board.

The new Bester Elementary, which is being built behind the current Bester Elementary, is expected to open in August 2014.

— Julie E. Greene

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