TR BOE approves bond invoices; discusses censuring member over alleged OMA violation

THREE RIVERS — The Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education approved a set of bond invoices during a special meeting held Monday.

The invoices, totaling just under $1.8 million, were for the secure entrance projects at the high school and elementary buildings, as well as the high school’s weight room addition. The project bills included architectural, construction management, contracting, supplies and other costs associated with each project.

The item was originally on the consent agenda for their Aug. 16 board meeting, but was pulled due to concerns Board Secretary Anne Riopel had about the invoices. She clarified those issues during discussion, saying the issues she pointed out related to how the budgeting for the invoices was done.

“It looked like there were a couple of things that had almost doubled in budgeting from what had been budgeted prior to what is budgeted now,” Riopel said. “Those things actually hadn’t been doubled in budgeting, it was more the actual spending of the areas in the budget hadn’t been aligned yet. So, they were totals rather than being individual line items.”

Riopel said the items needed to be itemized, and that Skillman, Superintendent Ron Moag and Facilities Director Brian Leonard are making sure the line items are set in invoices for future budgeting purposes.

“The invoices are coming in as a blanket thing for, let’s say, Park, Norton and Andrews all in one invoice, and not individualized, whereas on the bond application they were individualized and assigned,” Riopel said. “We just asked they be provided to us individualized as they are on the application.”

The motion to approve the invoices was passed 5-0. Trustee Kevin Hamilton and Vice President Linda Baker were not present at Monday’s meeting.

In other business…

  • The board discussed a possible censure of a board member for an alleged Open Meetings Act violation that occurred in May. Board President Erin Nowak said a complaint was filed with Michigan State Police in June, with the board notified recently that St. Joseph County Prosecutor Dave Marvin declined to pursue charges. The potential censure, Nowak said, would “make it clear we’re under the same understanding of what confidentiality means, and denounce the break in confidentiality that was occurred by a member of this Board of Education.”
  • The board heard one public comment advocating for a mask mandate in the district. Later in the meeting, the board recognized that written comments were submitted to individual board members regarding the mask issue, with Nowak adding that while they appreciate the public sending in their thoughts on the issue to board members, only public comments made in-person at a board meeting would be entered into the record. She said board members should encourage those sending in comments to attend a meeting and speak during public comment.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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