School Board Addresses Records Request & Receives Bond Bids

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By Dave Freneaux

The Central Community School Board met Monday, August 9th.  Much discussion was held regarding the Public Records Request by Mike Mannino seeking "unredacted" (no information blacked out) legal billing records from School Board.  Two attorneys representing the School Board advised that providing completely undredacted records would violate attorney-client privilege, open the School System up for potential lawsuits and jeopardize pending legislation.
The records were originally redacted in response to a 72 hour time frame allowed for response to a public records request.  Mr. Sills of Hammonds & Sills, the firm doing the redactions, shared that given the short time frame allowed, they were forced to take the most conservative approach in the process, yielding a greater amount of redactions.  Mr. Sills offered to have his staff take a second pass at the records, being careful only to redact what was critically necessary for the legal protection of the School System. 
After the additional legal fees associated with this process were discussed, the suggestion was made to have Mr. Mannino select a school board member who he trusted and have that member, who has unrestricted access to the documents without redaction, review the records on Mr. Mannino's behalf.  Mr. Mannino felt this was an appropriate path and asked Marty Guilbeau to review the records and stated that he would be satisfied with Mr. Guilbeau's findings.  Mr. "Woody" Jenkins then made it clear to the board that if Mr. Mannino took this approach, there would be additional Public Records Requests in order to gain access to the records anyway.  As a result, Board Member Starns moved to proceed with paying the attorneys to limit the readactions so that the matter could be settled completely.
Also on the agenda was the accepting of the lowest bid for the sale of $9 million in bonds for new school construction.  The bond sale, authorized by last year's election, netted an extremely low interest rate of 3.60%, which will amount to large savings to Central's taxpayers over the life of the bonds.  The School Board approved the bid.
Mr. Ross Bogan, the System's Construction Coordinator, requested and received two change orders in the renovation work and reported that all work is on or ahead of schedule and that the schools will be ready for occupancy on August 25th, the first day of school.
Other routine business was handled including approval of the Pupil Progression Plan, an agreement with the Associate Builders and Contractors to provide trade training classes, an agreement with Career Compass to provide college & career resources for high school students, and other routine personnel and administrative matters.