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School board reverses itself, awards bid to Denchel Ford

It is not the cars the office of Migrant Student Data and Recruitment (MSDR) were originally looking for, but nonetheless, MSDR staff does have something now to drive.

The Sunnyside School Board cleaned up some confusion at last night's meeting concerning the purchase of a pair of vehicles for MSDR.

Sunnyside School District serves as the fiscal manager for the MSDR program.

At last night's meeting, the school board approved the bid from Sunnyside's Tom Denchel Ford to purchase two 2004 Ford Taurus vehicles.

MSDR will be leasing the vehicles from the school district. MSDR will pay the school district for all lease associated costs, such as maintenance.

The issue goes back to the February school board meeting. At that meeting, school board members approved a request from MSDR Director Lee Campos to purchase a pair of Camrys from Toyota of Yakima. The bids from the Yakima dealership were $20,195 for each vehicle, significantly higher than two other bids received. Tom Denchel Ford submitted in February a bid of $14,212 per car for a 2004 Ford Taurus. At the February meeting, the board also received a bid of $13,429 per car from Harris Ford Inc. in Lynnwood for a Ford Taurus. The board went with the more expensive bid under the understanding it was because the MSDR needed the vehicles immediately.

MSDR had received direction from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to purchase vehicles for its staff. Campos explained in February that his staff members were turning in high requests for mileage checks. MSDR staff members have been using their personal vehicles to travel across the state to track the educational progress of migrant students.

The day following the February meeting, Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole halted the awarding of the bid until he could clarify some issues surrounding the board's decision. Cole was unable to be in attendance at the February meeting because of personal reasons.

Under state law, a governing body using taxpayer dollars has to go with the most conservative bid presented to them unless they can properly justify the reason for going with a higher bid.

At a special board meeting on March 10, Cole suggested the board reject all bids submitted at the February meeting and readvertise the process. Cole said he felt the bid specifications weren't as specific as they could have been. Cole told the board he wanted the specifications to outline more what the district was looking for.

This time around, Sunnyside School District Executive Director of Business Dave Plesha suggested the board go with the bid from Tom Denchel Ford. Plesha said Denchel officials told him they could have the vehicles available in the next few days. Plesha said Denchel originally told him it would be up to 45 days before the vehicles could be delivered.

The school board actually went with the state bid amount submitted by Harris Ford Inc of $13,773 per Ford Taurus. The catch is that Denchel agreed to match the state bid, which board members approved.

The original state bid amount was $11,753 per vehicle before taxes. The amount rose with the addition of fees for daytime running lights and a 60/40 split fold rear seat. Following license and title fees the final bid amount increased to $13,773 per vehicle.

Denchel agreed to provide all the items that were included in the state bid.

Some of the items that will be featured in the two Taurus cars include side-impact door beams, power front disc and rear drum brakes, air bags, fabric cloth seats, sunglass holder, outside temperature gauge and digital clock, power windows, air conditioning, remote keyless entry with trunk release, cruise control and deluxe AM/FM/Cassette/CD audio with six speakers.

Sunnyside School Board member Fred Kilian said he was glad to see the district accept the best offer for the vehicles. Kilian said the savings will prove out in the long run for the school district.

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