Career center: C4 board invests in furniture, fixtures for facility
The Carroll County Career Center will start feeling like a classroom soon.
The Connect 4 Board reviewed the furniture and fixtures needed for the facility at its Wednesday meeting, preparing the building for students’ arrival next fall.
Board president Rodney Ellis said C4 director James Knight has been working on finding both office furniture and classroom furniture.
“We got a lead on some used furniture in Cabot, but it didn’t really pan out,” Ellis said. “The furniture looked rough, and what you want to think about is this will be a place where you have a lot of tours. There’s a lot of interest in the state. They all have heard about Berryville.”
He said he asked Knight to solicit three bids for furniture.
Knight said he had received two bids so far, and a third company is in the process of submitting a bid. He said they had received a bid of $26,546.12 from School Outfitters and a bid of $23,901.70 from School Furniture for Less.
“That includes 20 lockers, 60 tables, three teacher desks, one main desk at the front end, two legal-size file cabinets, four regular size file cabinets, some white boards and a couple of office chairs,” Knight said.
Green Forest Superintendent Matt Summers said his school district traditionally always goes with the lowest bid unless there is a significant reason not to do so.
“I’m in favor of whatever we need to get,” he said. “Is it possible to bill this for the fall and get billed after July 1?”
“I said I might not order the furniture until June or July,” Knight said, “and each company said they didn’t have a problem with it. We don’t have a place to store it at the moment.”
Summers also recommended some other companies where Knight could solicit bids for the furniture.
The board voted to have Knight accept the lowest bid for office furniture and fixtures once all bids have been received. The motion specified that the purchasing invoice and delivery date must be scheduled for after July 1 in order to coincide with the new fiscal year.
Ellis said Knight has also been working with the counselors at Berryville, Green Forest and Eureka Springs high schools to come up with a class schedule for the C4 program.
Knight said he and the counselors have tentatively decided on three 50-minute blocks.
“It would be a start time of 8:15 a.m. through 10:45 a.m. for the morning session,” he said. “The afternoon class would begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 3 p.m.”
Knight said he and the counselors have also come up with an application process and form for interested students. He said the minimum qualifications state that students must have a 2.0 grade point average (GPA), a strong attendance record and be entering their junior year upon start time.
“We’re trying to make it flexible for all three schools to allow for extracurriculars,” Ellis said. “You’ll have some students drive and some who ride the bus. That will all be factored in.”
Summers said he would like to see transportation addressed on the application form for students.
“I would like to see ‘I will be driving myself,’ ‘parents are driving me’ or ‘riding bus’ on here,” he said. “For us, we’re going to run a bus over here after one of our other routes gets done. If all our kids are coming on a bus, then that’s a different deal because we may just bring a minibus otherwise.”
Summers said the Green Forest School District is going to require any students who are driving themselves to give a copy of their license and insurance to the high school office for liability purposes.
Ellis said one issue is that each school district has a different starting time for its school day. Berryville begins at 8:04 a.m. Eureka Springs begins at 7:55 a.m., and Green Forest starts at 8:10 a.m.
“So you’re all running seven-period days?” Ellis asked the superintendents.
Summers, Berryville Superintendent Owen Powell and Eureka Springs Superintendent Bryan Pruitt confirmed that each school has a seven-period day.
“Knight needs at least 150 minutes,” Ellis said. “A little more would be nice, but I know when you’ve got a seven-period day getting three periods is a pretty good allowance.”
“Another piece to this is it’s a work in progress,” Summers said. “We’re going to find things that are going to have to be tweaked and dealt with.”
Knight said he would revise the application to include a section about transportation.
Green Forest technology coordinator Jim Poff brought a bid of $62,465.30 from White River Services to the board for the career center’s technology needs, including laptops, printers and internet service.
“I like them because they’re good at servicing products they’re selling,” he said, “and it’s an Arkansas-based company that can supply everything we need. Since they’re Arkansas-based, their taxes go back into Arkansas.”
He said White River Services is also a TIPS/TAPS vendor, which means the board does not need another bid according to the state of Arkansas.
Since the bid would require contributions of more than $10,000 from each school district, Summers said the board would need to wait to approve the bid until local school boards have approved it first.
The board voted to table the bid approval for its next meeting.
Ellis informed the board that they are still waiting to hear the status on a few grants for the program.
“We’re trying to get in the $2 million range with equipment donations to put this over the top,” he said. “Today where I’m sitting at, if Tyson Foods does it all, then we’re about $700,000 below that. We can still get everything done, just not to the point where I want it to be.”
He said he is confident the organizations will step in to help with funding.
The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for noon Wednesday, April 4, at the Carroll County Career Center.
Ellis said industry leaders from Berryville, Green Forest and Eureka Springs will be invited to the meeting to see the progress made on the facility and learn about the curriculum for the program.
“Hopefully out of that we will get some other industry people putting skin in the game,” he said.