School Board Chooses Primary Attorney; Renews Contract With CleanPower [Portage Gazette]

The Stevens Point Board of Education officially made the law firm Boardman & Clark its primary law firm at the Monday, Aug. 11, meeting.

The board agreed that if special circumstances arise it will be able to call on other firms but the district should make an effort to use the primary law firm first in all cases possible.

All members except for Chris Scott voted in favor of Boardman & Clark. The other choices were Davis & Kuelthau and Weld, Reilly, Prenn & Ricci. The Business Services Committee select these three firms from the six that responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP).

An RFP for legal services was sent out after the June 9 meeting when board member Jeff Presley said he was concerned about the amount of money the district was spending on attorneys. The RFP was sent to 18 firms, and the three were invited to the Monday meeting for presentations.

“I have been involved with the Stevens Point school district since 1997,” said Michael Julka, the representative from Boardman & Clark who spoke at the meeting. “I have represented the district since that time. I appreciate the role we have played and I would like to continue that role.”

The firm currently represents 90 school districts as well as the School Board Association. The firm has 12 attorneys and one paralegal in its school law practice group, as well as additional attorneys in other fields that it can use for school district issues.

The board has not had an official primary law firm in the past, but rather has used the services of multiple firms simultaneously. Davis & Kuelthau has been used by the board most frequently up to this point.

“I am looking for consistency first of all with the firm that we handle,” said board member Jeff Presley. “For the main stay of the district’s business we should pick a firm whom we feel comfortable with not only as a board but also for our superintendent to use. That is our responsibility by our own policies.”

The board did discuss whether or not it wanted to continue using multiple firms but found wording in its policies that suggest it should have one primary law firm.

“I think a lot of the reason we end up using two law firms is because an opinion will come to this board and the board doesn’t like it,” said board member Jeff Ebel. “So you go get a second opinion.”

CleanPower contract renewed

The School Board renewed its contract with the janitorial contracting service CleanPower for the remainder of the fiscal year, which will end in June of 2015.

The decision came after several delays and contract extensions so the board could consider other options. Several board members have received complaints about CleanPower. The board asked the administration in April to present other options beside CleanPower for janitorial services.

The administration came back in July and presented options to hire district employees to replace CleanPower, but warned the board it would not be able to afford sustaining the salary of all district employees.

The board delayed the contract again in July, asking for more time to consider the budget before making a decision.

“We have been dealing with this issue for months, you have been delaying your decision and now we have kids coming in two weeks,” said Thomas Owens, director of business services. “No matter what you decide, we can’t do something in a week or two very effectively. From an administrative logistical aspect, it’s impossible to hire that many people in this short of time and be ready by Sept. 2.”

Board Member Patricia Baker said she did not want to hire CleanPower again but would be willing to do so until she could have a better understanding of the budget and have time to send out a new RFP for other contractors.

“We kind of left this up to the administration over and over,” said board member Kim Shirek. “We and the community said we do not want CleanPower in (our schools). They should have come up with some other opportunities. I suggested from day one when our community didn’t want CleanPower in there that we go with a different service.”

In the past several months four other schools have discontinued their contracts with CleanPower including, Waukesha County Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College, Turtle Lake School District and Fond Du Lac School District.

“We weren’t happy with the recommendation, we asked the administration to come back to us with different alternatives,” said board member Lisa Totten. “There is no way I am going to support this.”

CleanPower president Jeffrey Packee spoke Monday.

“I am not going to stand up here and defend ourselves, we are going to stand on our record,” said Packee. “We do a very good job with you, we are very flexible with you, with positions times, shifts and everything else.”

The Business Services Committee will meet in September and discuss alternatives to CleanPower. The district can terminate its contract with 30 days’ notice if it so chooses.

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