COVENTRY TWP. Members of the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, who are overseeing Coventry Local Schools as it navigates through fiscal emergency status, rejected an expenditure requested by the district.
During the Jan. 19 meeting, members voted unanimously not to approve they payment of $9,630 to EMOD, a Hinckley-based construction company that did construction work for the district once the modular classrooms were moved to the middle school from Turkeyfoot Elementary.
The EMOD purchase order sparked a large discussion between members of the commission and Coventry Superintendent Russell Chaboudy.
Chaboudy said said there was a $10,000 purchase order to construct an emergency road that was required by fire department.
The road ended up costing less than $10,000, but other issues came up, according to Chaboudy, in which EMOD handled without getting authorization with the school district. Those issues were related to a Summit County Building division inspection, which revealed electrical upgrades and roof work were needed.
"In order to get the school up and running on time, (EMOD) moved forward with that without getting permission from the school to do that," Chaboudy said.
Chaboudy said he believes EMOD was acting in the best interest of the schools. Chaboudy said the district had a conversation with EMOD officials and explained to them the proper procedures and said that if a similar incident happens again, the EMOD would not be compensated.
Chaboudy also said there also was a discussion with the school board and the district was comfortable moving forward with the payment even though the work was done without prior approval.
"At what point in time did the inspectors from the county talk to John Hibian (Coventry School director of facilities), who should have been the one to decide what needed to be done at that time?" commission member Holly Miller asked.
Chaboudy said he didn’t have that information, but EMOD officials said that since they were under budget on the road coasts, they thought they could go ahead with the electrical upgrades and roof work.
"So they just did the work and then an invoice appeared for $9,630 to be paid," Miller said.
Coventry Treasurer Mathew Muccio said it was hard to speak on specifics about the purchase order and compared it to someone coming to your house and mowing your grass and then giving you a bill afterward.
Chaboudy, however, guaranteed the work was done, and that it was needed.
Commission Member Quentin Potter said in 2016 the commission also did not approve a purchase order with EMOD because of a similar situation.
"I am really surprised that we are talking about the same exact thing with the same exact company," Potter said.
Chaboudy countered by saying the two aren’t the same situation.
"It just strikes me as something that shouldn’t happen and that should have been made clear when we did the first contract," Potter said. "I don’t see how it happens two times in a row."
Miller asked how Hibian was not aware of the work that was going on.
Chaboudy said he could not speak for Hibian.
Commission chairperson Kim Richard said the commission has no way to see if the district was overbilled or not. She would like to see a new contract drawn up, approved by the board and then brought to the commission.
There were six purchase orders totaling more than $5,000 all grouped together and the commission broke the EMOD purchase order out and voted separately on it. The other five expenditures were approved.
The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb 16 at the Lakeview Administrative Offices.