LIVERMORE FALLS — A Livermore contractor asked school board directors why the lowest bidder did not receive the contract for plowing and removing snow for the Livermore and Livermore Falls school system.

Directors of Regional School Unit 36 authorized new Superintendent Judith Harvey to make the decision, and she chose Eldwood Leighton of Livermore Falls because he did the work last year and was told he did a good job, she said. Leighton bid $23,000.

Jamie Roy of J.M. Roy Excavation, who had the lowest bid of $19,200, also asked Thursday night why the board votes on other items but not a plowing contract.

“Everything that happens in the school system has to be voted on by the board,” Roy said, including the Class of 2011 prom in Augusta and a possible class trip to Florida. Both were approved.

Chairman Ashley O’Brien said the board authorized the superintendent
to enter into contracts. He also read a portion of the contract wording
that the district can reject any or all bids and that it doesn’t have
to go to the lowest bidder. The decision was made with the help of the
building and grounds supervisor, Ken Vining, he said.

O’Brien suggested Roy bid again next year. He also said the board would review the contract award policy.

“You put a job out to bid to get the price, Roy said. If that’s not the case, why put it out to bid in the first place.
Granted, he said, he doesn’t have 30 years experience as the others do, but he had nine years and Harvey had accepted his $3 million insurance binder.

Harvey said being in the position since July, she didn’t know the contractors and asked how the one selected last year did. The advice she received pointed to continuing with Leighton, she said.

“I went with him since I’m not familiar with any of them and Leighton, by all accounts, did a good job last year,” Harvey said after the meeting. “I felt more comfortable staying with the known until I am here for a year and can make the kinds of judgments it takes to make a change.”

Director Denise Rodzen said she has been a board member for many years, and only one bid has been received through those years.

“I understand your frustration,” Rodzen said. It used to be that the board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee opened the bids and put forth a recommendation to the full board.

Harvey said she would gladly have the Buildings and Grounds Committee open the bids and make the recommendation.

“We voted on that right (of Harvey) to award the contract,” Director Ann Souther said. “We need to stand behind her.”

The third bidder was Jean Castonguay Excavation & Logging of Livermore Falls with a price of $25,000.

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