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U-46 Board settles on disposal service vendor


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved of a five-year contract with Advanced Disposal Services at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 6.
  The approval comes after the board opposed, by a 4-3 vote, the district’s first proposal with Groot Industries Incorporated at its previous meeting on July 23. Phil Costello, Sue Kerr, Veronica Noland and Melissa Owens all voted against the first proposal while John Devereux, Donna Smith and Jeanette Ward voted for it.
  Both Advanced and Groot came in at about $1.2 million over the five years, but Advanced was $11,559 less a year. The savings with going to Advanced may not materialize though as Groot had already purchased equipment in anticipation of receiving the contract.
  What was at question at the previous meeting was references and experience. The district scored each bidder on seven metrics with price making up the highest weight of the score at 30 percent, but references and experience, as a category, was right behind at 25 percent of the weight.
  All bidders were asked to provide at least three references, but Advanced had provided four that responded to the district. However, at least one reference for Advanced didn’t respond favorably to the district’s questions.
  Waste Management was the previous service provider for the district which U-46 said did not provide great service for them, and some of its issues were the same ones addressed by the Advanced reference with incidences of miscommunication, customer service and “horrendous” accounting in billing according to the initial proposal.
  Bruce Phelps, senior business official, said before the July 23 vote: “Regardless of whether we got three or four, it wouldn’t change some of the comments. These are references that that vendor supplied to us.”
  Still, board members who voted against the proposal said Advanced was scored unfairly for having more references, specifically Noland and Owens. The district also appeared to rush the vote allowing the board just one meeting to evaluate and vote on the proposal.
  The administration admitted it had given Groot a letter of intent before that first vote to allow them to prepare for providing service. At the Aug. 6 meeting, a Groot representative addressed the board during public comments saying that they were under the impression that the references scoring would be “more based on the quality of the reference instead of the quantity,” and he said Groot had already purchased $287,000 worth of equipment for the U-46 account.
  Ward asked prior to the meeting for the district’s justification for switching to Advanced as well as what will happen concerning the equipment purchase by Groot.
  The district responded: “It was determined that the scores applied to each vendor in each category were subjective and were not based on any mathematical calculations. If the evaluation was solely based on price, Advanced would be the low bidder. Additionally, if we used the scores that were assigned to the last question and created a score based on the responses from the references, Advanced would still be the low bidder. I cannot speculate at this point what the end result will be with respect to the dumpsters Groot purchased.”
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said at the Aug. 6 meeting: “In regards to what the Groot official brought forward, we will need to review that with legal counsel as we do not believe that ordering that amount of dumpsters was necessary.”
  Sanders said the letter of intent stated “we would agree to reimburse for reasonable and customary expenses. We do not believe it’s reasonable or customary to order that number of dumpsters for this specific contract.”
  Kerr asked if the contract will include some of the expectations the board discussed at the previous meeting, such as an opt-out for poor service, and Jeff King, chief operating officer, said it would.

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