B-W School Board Debates $80K Stage Rigging System

The stage is part of the Baldwin High School auditorium.

If it's not broke, it could still be better.

The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board is considering an approximately $80,000 improvement to Baldwin High School's auditorium stage rigging system.

The system—a collection of pulleys, ropes, chains, weights and similar items used prominently during theater productions—has passed safety inspections, B-W School District Superintendent Dr. Randal A. Lutz said at a school board meeting on Wednesday night, but it has a "reduced capacity," Lutz said, compared to a newer rigging system.

Board member George L. Pry, who has some knowledge of the new equipment, mentioned an $80,000 cost estimate. Pry said that he is not in favor of buying the equipment, as good it may be, given the school district's current economic situation.

"There are some other needs out there (instead) that are fairly critical for us," he said.

Pry, who praised the new equipment as "push-button," "modern," and "automatic," nevertheless said that he would motion to table (delay) a vote later this month on the potentially $80,000 rigging purchase. But district solicitor Ed Lawrence reminded the board's members that bids for the project have already been collected, necessitating either approval or disapproval from the board on Oct. 10. (UPDATE: Lawrence confirmed with Paul D. Svirbel, district facilities director, on Oct. 10 that Baldwin-Whitehall would still be in compliance with the rigging's bidding process should it vote on it on Nov. 7.)

Lutz could not speak in detail regarding the new rigging system, preferring that board President John B. Schmotzer, whom Lutz says has more knowledge of the topic, do that instead. Schmotzer, however, was absent from Wednesday's meeting.

Board member Nancy Sciulli DiNardo said that she was "taken aback" by Wednesday's conversation over the new equipment.

"I don't even know what this is," Sciulli DiNardo said, arguing that Lutz should be able to describe every board-meeting item "left, right and all the way around" before presenting it to the board's members.

She also did not like feeling uninformed about the equipment while other board members, like Schmotzer, apparently have more detailed information.

"This shouldn't even be on the (meeting) agenda," Sciulli DiNardo said. "If someone's not here, who's informed, to tell us about it, then it shouldn't be on the agenda.

"It's one thing to be treated like a potted plant by administration. It's another thing to be treated like a potted plant by my colleagues."

The board's members came to a consensus—minus Nancy Lee Crowder, who was also absent on Wednesday—that they need to hear a detailed presentation next week regarding the equipment before voting on whether or not to purchase it.

The auditorium's director, Bob Smith, is expected to be present at the Oct. 10 school board meeting, as is Schmotzer.

Lutz said that leftover funds in the district's construction account could cover the cost of new rigging.

Baldwin High's theater program, which captured a "Best Musical" honor at the 2012 Gene Kelly Awards, uses the school's current rigging system.

Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night's school board meeting.

Click here for more B-W School Board news.


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Brian Rampolla October 05, 2012 at 01:55 AM
How do things like this keep happening in this district? I checked past board meeting minutes even into last year and saw no evidence that there were discussions about remaining construction funds, options for those funds, the rigging, or authorization to go out for bids, yet all of sudden the bids are in to be voted on? We can only be 100% sure about remaining construction fund money after the results of the 6/20/12 audit are officially released probably in December, so this issue should be put on hold until then. Even then there should be an open discussion about options for those funds, including input from parents, before a final decision is made.
cc October 05, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Brian I agree , When I seen this I went back though meetings also and did not see anywhere where they talked about this. It must of been a few phone calls to a few members to make the decision to go get bids. I though all things like this should be addressed at a public meeting then they take a vote on getting bids. I even went though the school budget to see if there was past construction money left and could not find it there either. I can't wait till we can vote these clowns out of office and get a new board. Not sure how they get back election after election. I also wish that they would change the policy of the board that when someone resigns, their seat can't be filled with someone previously on the board or have a relative take his/her place. This is when new people should be placed on the board with fresh ideas.
bd October 05, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Rampolla - If you are correct, then the school board in in violation of the law. New stage rigging is NOT a service contract and the amount of money in question is above the threshold and requires a VOTE by the school board to authorize the advertising for bids for the work. If they did not vote to authorize bidding and if they did not advertise, it ain't legal. I think the school board president, Dr. Lutz and the school board solicitor got some splainin' to do.
Robert Edward Healy, III October 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Follow-up coming soon.
Robert Edward Healy, III October 11, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Here it is.: http://patch.com/A-y6WM.


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