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Questions on whether to pay mistake on blacktop work

DARLINGTON – The Darlington School District recently had work done on their parking lot by Iverson Construction, which they were told came in under budget. At the school board meeting Monday night, Jan. 18, it was discovered that Iverson Construction made a mistake and the school still needed to pay the amount thought to be under budget.

District Administrator Cale Jackson stated that he and Maintenance Director Lee Black looked back over all the orders and statements that they received from Iverson Construction and found that they would indeed need to pay it.

Iverson Construction told the district they came in under budget by $19,287. After they completed a year-end audit, they found they had made a mistake. The $19,287 was to be paid for engineering fees but they forgot to charge the district the money.

RJ Brunkow questioned how that was the district’s problem and why they needed to pay.

“We (Jackson and Black) are very convinced that we owe that. It was their mistake that they didn’t bill us,” Jackson said. “We had a contract that we would pay them if they did certain amount of work. They did that work but they made a mistake on the billing. If we were to fight it and not pay it, I’m not sure how that would go.”

Bob Hermanson stated that the billing was hard to follow and the money was left off the final billing.

“It was their mistake not ours but we do owe the money,” Hermanson said.

Colleen Reichling Williams asked if they sent the district a final bill. Jackson assumed the final invoice sent was the final bill.

“Before they discovered their billing error, all parties understood that was the final bill?” Brunkow asked.

Jackson stated yes.

Board president Aaron Wolfe stated that the district approved their bid and “now the final bill says we have to pay it.”

Brunkow protested that many places make mistakes and you don’t get reimbursed for those mistakes.

Wolfe said it would be different if it were over what was bid.

“It is for the cost of the engineering. They are not making funny numbers up,” Wolfe said.

Williams asked, “So if someone bids a project for $10,000 and they bill us $9,000, we should still pay them $10,000?”

Brunkow agreed that just because they approved a total cost it has nothing to do with what they end up paying, as they could come under budget or have change orders.

“They were the ones that made the error. We didn’t under pay them. I’m not saying we don’t pay them but to clarify the problem was on their end,” Joe Schilling said.

Matt Crist agreed with Schilling.

“I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t but there are so few black top companies around. My only concern is I’m not sure where we are at with black top. It is disappointing. What if you do a project at your own home and they come in under budget and then come back and want the rest when you have already spent that extra money. Would you feel different,” Crist said.

Jackson agreed it would be good to keep a good relationship with them for that reason.

Brunkow made the motion to pay the additional money, with Wolfe seconding. The motion passed 6-3 with Brunkow, Schilling and Theresa Siegenthaler voting no.

Returning In-person Scheduling

The school district will be coming back in-person full time for the second semester. DEMS will be back on Fridays starting Jan. 29. Friday will continue with the old schedule as an early release.

The high school has been going hybrid and will be going back to school all five days, again with Fridays being an early release day. They had switched to a block schedule with the hybrid model but they will be going back to an 8-period model.

Jackson stated the reasoning for going back is the number of positive cases has decreased with an average of 5.4 positive cases in the last two weeks. He spoke with Lafayette County Health Director Julie Liebfried and she was in support of the district going back to school as every other school in the area is doing the same thing.

He asked at what point would the district have to go back to either the hybrid model and/or the virtual model. Liebfried stated it was not based on one number but several factors such as the number of positive cases in the county or in the district or available beds in the hospital.

Jackson asked if the new strain should be of concern to coming back in person. Liebfried stated that the new strain appears to be more contagious but is not any deadlier. It is not a major factor in the decisions being made in the county.

He also asked when the school staff would be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they so chose. Liebfried said the State is making that decision and it is possible that school staff will be in the next level. It could be sometime in February that staff could get it. They will set up stations like they have done in the past with flu vaccines.

The other factor in coming back in person is academics. Many students are not doing well with the mixture of in person and virtual. Students are struggling and getting them back into a routine, in something they are used to can really help increase their grades and mental health.

Other Business

The school board of education approved the co-ops with Black Hawk for wrestling and Southwestern, Cuba City and Benton for gymnastics for the 2021-2022 season.

It was brought up that more communication would need to be had between teams, coaches and parents on the subject of junior high teams, especially in wrestling. There was some confusion between Black Hawk whether they were going to have a seventh and eighth grade team this year. Darlington was under the impression it was not happening due to COVID-19 but in correspondence with some Black Hawk parents, they were unaware.

The discussion of cost sharing for the gymnastics program will be discussed at a later meeting.

The board also approved:

-a donation from Casey’s General Store of $21 to the District from their Cash for Classrooms Program.

-the resignation of Stacey Johnson, CNA, and Dennis Murphy, JV Baseball coach.

-the hiring of: Ryan Ponsler – NHS advisor; Katelyn Reichling – ESL teacher; Molly Wiegel – assistant track coach; Tyler Dorninck – JV baseball coach; Brad Schliem – freshman/assistant baseball coach; Cole Trumble and Kyle Johnson – volunteer track coaches; and Jesse and John Sturtz – volunteer baseball coaches.