$350,000 Windfall Will Pay For New School Furniture

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A windfall of nearly $350,000 will pay for new furniture at Julia Randall Elementary, the Payson Unified School District Board decided Thursday.

The district used to participate in a shared risk agreement with the health provider Blue Cross Blue Shield. It switched to a pooled health agreement two years ago after the shared risk rates skyrocketed and the district could no longer afford them, said Bobette Tomerlin, the district’s business manager.

But, three weeks ago, a rebate check sailed into the mailbox for $349,440.

Will it happen again, a board member asked? Tomerlin said it wouldn’t.

“Are we going to need this money next year to run this school?” asked board member Rory Huff.

Tomerlin said since the rebate would never come again, it wasn’t wise to add the money into the budget.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien said there are rumors that the state will dip into district funds. “It’s to our benefit to spend that money now,” he said.

The board approved AZ School Furnishing’s estimate of $398,300, which was $6,500 more than School Specialty’s competing estimate.

The bulk of the money will pay for furniture at Julia Randall, though $69,000 will buy kitchen equipment at the school. Rim Country Middle School will also receive about $53,000 worth of new furniture.

Henry Halikowski, the construction project manager, said he has worked with the chosen company before and was pleased. He had to “pry” a quote from the other company which Halikowski said, “tells me a few things right there” about the service the district would receive.

Tomerlin said the chosen company’s goods were of a higher quality. Officials said they would rather spend extra money and be assured of a satisfied outcome.

District officials also said the project didn’t need to go out to bid because the companies are state-approved.

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