School Board accepts Felan's withdrawal from VP slot; Heath Nix takes role
Dr. Joe Felan, a member of the Benton School Board, held true to his promise not to continue serving as vice president of the seven-member board and Heath Nix, one of the board's two newest members, has been elected to fill that post.
That action occurred Monday night in the regular December meeting of the board at Ringgold Elementary School.
Felan had been elected vice president of the body in the board's November meeting, but decided later that his philosophy does not coincide with that of the board president, Jeff Morrow, nor with the majority of the board members.
In an emailed message to the board a few weeks ago, Felan wrote that his "vision and expectations for the board" are not congruent with the current president nor with the majority of the board members.
"I believe that I can better serve the board just as a regular member and not as the vice president of the board ... ," Felan wrote.
In Monday's meeting, Felan told the board that this was "not an easy decision," but said he thinks it is "best for me to step back a little bit."
Board member Wade Goodwin presented a motion to accept Felan's resignation and board member Paul Viner seconded the motion. No one voted against the motion.
After the board had agreed to accept Felan's resignation — which Morrow said he was dealing with "regretfully" — he polled the board to see who would be willing to succeed Felan in the officer's role he has held for more than a year.
Brad Bohannan is already serving as secretary and was not asked whether he would be willing to become vice president, but the four other members — Goodwin, Viner, Jonathan Woolbright and Nix — were asked about their willingness to assume the vice president's post. Goodwin, Viner and Woolbright all declined, but Nix agreed to take the office.
In other matters, the board agreed to purchase risers and an acoustical sound shell for the Benton High School Choral Department. These items also could be utilized by the band students when performing in concert at the high school auditorium, Acting Superintendent Dan Jordan noted.
The board agreed to purchase the risers and shell from Wenger Corp., one of three companies that submitted bids. Other bids were submitted by SICO and Classroom Furniture.com.
The Wenger bid for the risers and shell was for $38,842.15
Angela White, director of the choral music department at the high school, had recommended the Wenger bid.
White could not attend the meeting because she was directing a concert Monday night at the high school. However, she had submitted a written statement that was included in the board members' packets.
In that statement, she said: " ... In my opinion, I believe the Wenger product to be of the highest quality. The SICO bid is less expensive for the risers, but in viewing the product videos, I was quite concerned with the construction of the riser safety railing. Each time the riser is used, the safety railing must be raised and a pin placed to hold the safety railing in an upright position.
"I believe that over time that the security provided will be weakened due to the pin placement each time," White stated. "The Wenger riser safety railing never needs to be lowered for storage or for any other use. Wenger is the only company that I've found that carries acoustical sound shells for the stage. If we were to use SiCO for risers, we would still be using Wenger for the shells."
She pointed out that her classroom set of risers, which are seated risers, are from Wenger, as is her podium, the current auditorium risers and even the current acoustical shells.
She further noted that Wenger products are "long lasting."
Reiterating that the Wenger bid was considerably higher than that of SICO, White said she believes "you get what you pay for."
All of the board members voted to purchase the Wenger products.
In another matter, after much discussion, the board voted 6-1 to complete the update of the old high school library as a professional development center and board room.
Voting against the plan was Felan, who expressed concerns about the money involved in the project.
Bohannan also asked several questions about the district's financial ability to handle this project, but ultimately voted for it. He had asked business manager Robyn Keene about her comfort level in expending the remaining funds the project will take from the district's unrestricted building fund.
Keene said it "looks like we will have some money left over at the end of the year" to add to the fund for the new school term.
Jordan said the building is not suitable to be used for professional development meetings in its current state.
The total cost of the renovation project is listed at $157,068, but $79,909 was stated to be the the remaining balance needed to complete the work.
When Morrow asked for a motion on the issue, a significant period of silence ensued before Bohannan finally presented the motion to proceed with the work. Viner seconded it.