Farwell BOE approves new tech fiber line

September 13, 2018

By Pat Maurer

The Farwell Board of Education voted Monday to approve the low bid-estimate of $136,970 from AmComm, Inc. to build a new Farwell Schools owned fiber connection from Farwell to Clare Schools and connect to the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District.

At the August meeting the board had asked Kevin Kickbusch to post an RFP (request for proposals) to build a new fiber line.

Kickbusch said the Charter Spectrum contract for the four fiber lines now in use for the school’s technology would expire next July and said it was likely that Spectrum would “shut us off” when the contract expires. He said a project to build a new fiber cable, if started in September, “would be hard pressed to complete by next July.”

At Monday’s meeting he presented estimates from AmComm, Inc., WinnTelecom using the rail trail, Winn Telecom using M115, Fiberlink and Pro-tech Cabling. Winn Telecom and Fiberlink were condominium proposals splitting costs between each one and Farwell 50-50. Costs for the district ranged from AmComm’s low bid to $321,950.

He said he and Clare Gladwin RESD Technology Director Ken Chinavare recommended that the board accept the bid from AmComm because the district would own the fiber and sheath “without worrying about contracts with other companies now or in the future.”

Eric Szafranski, representing AmComm reported that the actual build would be a matter of weeks but that the time for the build depended on the Consumer’s Energy approval, fees and pole inspections.

The new build would be a 12 fiber line. The school now uses four lines to connect.

Interim Superintendent recommended that the district get a loan to cover the initial payment and total costs. “We can’t take it from the fund balance,” he said.
In another matter the board heard a presentation summarizing the district’s financial audit, which reported expenses totaling $13,328,460 and a net position and revenues of $11,954,889 resulting in an ending net position of a negative $17,375,699, which is less than last year by $573,848. The audit showed an increase in the fund balance from $1,494,368 at the beginning of the year to an ending fund balance of $1,731,635. The audit report stated, “We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control over compliance that we consider to be material weaknesses.”

A new superintendent has not yet been selected although two candidates have been selected: Jeffrey Yorke and Steven Scoville. Site visits are scheduled this week on Thursday and Friday and a selection may be made at a special meeting Monday evening.

Yorke is the current Instructional and Student Services Director at Millington Community Schools in Millington. Scoville is the current Elementary Principal of Delton Kellogg Schools in Delton for the past 12 years beginning in July, 2007.

Other business at the BOE meeting included:

*a presentation from Clare County Transit Director Tom Pirnstill;

*hiring four new Para pros: Kurt Meister, Michelle Boyd, Sonya Brown and Fanny Yoder.

*accepting the resignation of Tanya Dibble and Amy Stodder;

*the approval of monthly invoices totaling $147,151.28.

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