Friday, December 02, 2016

Joplin R-8 Board extends contract of emergency management consultants

Crunch time has arrived for the Joplin R-8 School District as it tries to convince FEMA to approve the reimbursement of millions of dollars in "errors and omissions" from the district's building projects.

In closed session Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to extend the contract of the Witt O'Brien firm, an emergency management consultant which has worked with the district since the tornado through December 31, 2017.

The vote was closed because it concerned "legal actions involving the district," according to the minutes.

The first rejection of the "errors and omissions" request came during the July 26 board meeting, the same time it was first noted that FEMA had twice rejected requests for reimbursement for work done on East Middle School.

The district's budget and its balances have been based on the money CFO Paul Barr has indicated month after month would be headed this way.

"Errors and omissions" is a phrase that includes items that were not originally in the plans district officials submitted to FEMA, including what Barr termed in a 2014 board meeting as "might-as-well spending," which he defined as spending that takes place because the district wanted to do it at some point and it "might as well" do it now.

Barr's reference was to items that had been added at Joplin High School, including extra tennis courts, artificial turf and lighting for all fields and practice fields, and a track at the high school, all items that had not been included in the original plans.

In other closed session actions, the board approved the hiring of Melinda Moss as superintendent and approved the resignation of Kellie Blagg.

Barr told the board that no bids were received for the Washington building at 1112 E. 2nd Street.

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