State Issues Finding Over Montesano School District Turf Project

A recent audit found that the Montesano School District did not follow state law when choosing their contractor for a million dollar field turf project at the High School.

The Washington State Auditor’s Office said in their finding that the District paid a total of $1,014,000 between 2014 and 2016 for the purchase and installation of new field turf.

Administrators at the Montesano School District said in their reply that they used a Texas-based company that ensured the lowest-bidder laws were met. They added, “Although we cannot confirm the district received the best price for the turf project, we are satisfied we received a high-quality product for a competitive price in the time frame needed for our school and community.

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The reply to the finding continued, “The district is committed to following bid laws and guidelines for future projects and will also verify the vendor chosen is a contractor who is allowed to do business in the State of Washington and not on the list of debarred contractors.

The state auditor said that the contract procured by The Interlocal Purchasing System, or TIPS met Texas’ requirements; however, Washington regulations differ and were not met. They cited the District for not ensuring that bid law was satisfied by the lead agency.

A youtube video shows the time-lapse installation of the field in Montesano.

The Auditors Office recently posted an article on their blog about this subject, you can find that here.

School districts are required to competitively bid all public works projects over $100,000. Specifications for the purchases must be available to all interested parties and must be approved by the governing body. The submitted bids must be opened and read publicly at a fixed time and place, and the contract must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.

State law allows school districts to fulfill these bidding requirements through a process, referred to as piggybacking, in which they purchase from a bid awarded by the state, another government or group of governments, provided the following requirements are satisfied:

  • The District must enter into an interlocal agreement to use another entity’s
  • The participating government is responsible for ensuring the award meets
    bid requirements.

Montesano School District No. 66 installed field turf during the 2015 and 2016 school years. The District received donations from the community to fund the majority of the project. The total cost of the project was $1,014,103. The District piggybacked on a contract awarded by The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) from Texas.

The report said that the District did not ensure the procurement process used by TIPS met bid requirements when selecting a contractor for the purchase and installation of the field turf. The contractor that was selected for the purchase and installation was not the lowest responsible bidder.

In addition, before awarding the contract, the District did not search the Department of Labor and Industries’ list of debarred contractors to determine whether the contractor was allowed to do business in Washington.