The WASB testified in opposition to a bill (Assembly Bill 307) that would require school districts to use the competitive bidding process on all construction projects above $75,000. The WASB determined its position based on support for local control and noted that the bill would limit or eliminate local board discretion and flexibility to use various project delivery methods for school construction. (See previous post.)
Among other things, the bill would prohibit schools from using Design-Build methods and it would also prohibit schools from negotiating with local contractors or establishing a bidding preference for local contractors on all school construction, repair or remodeling projects above $75,000. In its testimony, the WASB acknowledged that many school boards currently voluntarily use competitive bidding as a matter of board policy, but objected to a statutory mandate to do so.
Waunakee School Board Vice President Julie Waner and Superintendent Randy Guttenberg also testified at the hearing, describing how their rapidly growing district, which has added several new buildings and redesigned others, has benefitted from close relationships with local contractors and a suppliers under current law and how they used services from the University of Wisconsin to identify favorable pricing to ensure taxpayer value.
Joshua Schoemann, Hartford Union High School Board President, also testified at the hearing, primarily in his role as County Administrator for Washington County.
WASB does support provisions in the bill raising the dollar threshold for triggering the competitive bidding requirement for municipalities and counties from $25,000 to $75,000.