BRADENTON -- At the beginning of a Manatee County School Board meeting Tuesday that coincided with a Primary Election, board members unanimously postponed a vote on contracting with armed security officers for district elementary schools.
The board did not wait to get to the item toward the end of the agenda, and tabled it at the start of the meeting.
Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner, a vocal opponent of the proposal, brought the issue forward.
"There are items included in the order of the day that have not been made available to board members and members of the community for a week, or even for a day," Miner said.
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The proposal to table the motion met no opposition but board member Barbara Harvey said she would be upset if there was an incident in a school in the next two weeks.
"We can table it, it's not a problem, but don't let anything happen to our children that we could have avoided," she said.
During the meeting, news broke that Karen Carpenter and Charlie Kennedy had won two board seats outright.
Board Chairwoman Julie Aranibar and former MTI director Mary Cantrell will face each other again in a runoff election in November to see who will hold the final open seat. New board members will begin serving after the Nov. 4 election.
Tuesday's meeting featured a number of contracts and big-budget items, although some of the biggest items were tabled.
The board also unanimously tabled a $384,000 contract with Compass Professional Health Services, a Dallas-based company promising to bring down health care costs.
The board got a workshop on the contract from company representative David
Toomey in July, but board members said another session is needed to ask more questions.
"I don't think the community or this board has been prepped to go forward with this," Miner said.
Overall, the self-insured district covers nearly 10,000 people, including approximately 4,600 employees. The company would charge $7 a month per employee enrolled in a district health insurance plan to provide two types of services. The contract for a concierge service would begin Sept. 1.
Although the company is based in Dallas, it has local ties. Richard Conard, a local doctor, brought the company to the Health Insurance Committee about four years ago for consideration, said Pat Barber, president of the Manatee Education Association and a long-time member of the health insurance committee. At the time, the company was owned by Conard's son, Scott, Barber said. The district was not interested in the company at the time, she said.
Conard, a member of a committee involved in the search for Rick Mills as superintendent of schools, is not a member of the Health Insurance Committee. His son no longer owns the company.
The Compass contract was originally listed under the consent agenda, but was pulled and put under new business prior to the start of the meeting.
In board updates, the ending fund balance for the 2013-14 fiscal year stands at $14.4 million, according to interim Chief Financial Officer Conley Weiss.
"The only word I can use is it's significant," Weiss said. "I have never heard of a turnaround that big that fast."
Weiss said 29 different object lines contributed to the increased fund balance.
In other business:
The board approved spending $45,000 more than budgeted for legal services, increasing the total budget for Houston-based Sniffen & Spellman to $194,000. Miner asked for an itemized list of the costs associated with the increase.
The board approved selling the Parent Information Center, 234 Manatee Ave. E., for $390,000 to Manatee Avenue Properties. The district can work with a backup contract and find a new buyer if the current buyer backs out. Manatee Avenue Properties also has to agree to the addendum before it can officially be signed.
The 5,280-square-foot building and two parcels were designated as surplus by the board in April 2013. Board members lamented selling the building at a loss, but approved the sale.
"From a business standpoint, sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move forward," said board member Bob Gause.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.