Roma ISD School Board Fails to Approve Contractor

A tie of those board members in favor and those opposed caused the recommendation for a contractor not to be approved.

Last Thursday during the Roma ISD school board meeting the absence of what could have been the decisive vote contributed to being able to approve the contractor. Present at the meeting were President Clarissa Alvarez, Vice President Juan Antonio “Tony” Saenz, and members Raul P. Moreno Jr., Leticia Garza-Galvan, Ricardo A. Perez, and Reynaldo “Rey” Rodriguez.

Business Manager Alfonso Perez addressed the board explaining that the district had requested bids and had received three bids. He stated all three were close in price saying, “They were all very competitive.”

David Iglesias who represents the company that will oversee the day to day construction of the JROTC building and band hall improvements confirmed the bid process.

Iglesias and Perez were both evaluators and used a ranking system to determine the recommendation to be presented to the board.

The recommendation to the board was to approve the bid from Davila Construction although they were not the lowest bidder. Trigen Construction received additional points according to Iglesias for being the lowest bidder. Their bid was about $40,000 less than Davila Construction. Board member Leticia Garza-Galvan asked Iglesias if he had worked with Trigen Construction before and he answered not just that he had but assured the board it had been a positive experience.Between the two companies in the ranking, determined by points, were 4 points. Iglesias had scored both companies equally but it was Business Manager Alfonso Perez who had made the difference. When asked about his decision Perez said, “Us working with Davila. They are very easy to work with. They are considerate.”

Garza-Galvan clarified that the company has not started working with the district and that anything done prior was in the planning stages. Perez however, continued to give a stellar review. Perez stated he would rather go with someone he knows when Garza-Galvan probed into whether he had talked to anyone from Trigen Construction. President Alvarez said, ”We don’t necessary have to go with the cheapest.” Board member Rey Rodriguez reminded everyone that it is between $30,000-$40,000 cheaper.

The discussion moved into a timeline to which Iglesias said that if approved they would move to negotiate the contract and begin work by the end of August.

Iglesias agreed that he was willing to work with any company the district contracted with. Board member Ricardo Perez again asked Perez to clarify why he ranked Davila Construction higher than the lowest bidder. Once more the Business Manager talked about knowing Davila Construction and previous experience. He also stated that the price was not final. That the approval is to negotiate.
Vice President Tony Saenz made it clear that he did not want to see change orders in an effort to stay within budget and Board member Raul Moreno Jr. added that Colonel for the JROTC program would likely be close to the project as well.

Garza-Galvan asked why they couldn’t negotiate with the lowest bidder and if representatives were in the room from the companies. Sara A. Orta of Trigen Construction introduced herself as a Roma Alumni and project manager for the company. She stated they have been in business 11 years.
Moreno asked if it would be possible to save the $40,000 by negotiating with the higher bidder. Iglesias said it would be up to Davila construction. Alvarez pointed out that the representative from Davila was in the room and nodding his head in agreement. Moreno asked the Business Manager if they had approved a vendor before when they were not the lowest bidder. Perez affirmed that they had but did not remember the specifics. Unofficial sources claim that it might have been Davila Construction as well but when the question was made to Perez via email El Tejano did not receive a reply.

Alvarez called for a vote. A motion was made by Moreno and a second by Saenz. Alvarez voted in unison with the two but Perez, Rodriguez and Garza-Galvan voted against. Garza-Galvan said she was willing to make a motion to approve the lower bidder but she was cut off by Moreno. Alvarez stated that she would need to bring it up in the next meeting. Again Garza-Galvan attempted to explain that she could make another motion but Superintendent Carlos Guzman and several others said the vote was to be on the recommendation.
In the end the tie did not allow for the construction to move forward. The three members against met with the Colonel from the JROTC program to explain their stance after the meeting. All three explained that they did want construction to begin but could not allow for the district to spend additional money.

*Although El Tejano requested the rating sheets following the meeting and via email by Tuesday night these had been released.

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