WHITMAN — The Whitman Middle School Feasibility Study Committee approved a final request for services for the owner/project manager on the Whitman Middle School building project reported during its Sept. 21 meeting.
It will now be advertised in the central register and in the local newspaper.
The Mass. School Building Authority had returned it’s comments on the district’s request that day, Feasibility Study Committee Chairman Fred Small said.
The committee also discussed the need for managing the flow of funds and invoices between the town of Whitman and the school district. Thus far, the only invoices being handled are for newspaper advertising, but the move is a way of getting ahead of things.
They voted to have a process under which the district would pay invoices up front, sending them to Whitman for the town to reimburse the district, as school capital projects are now paid. They also voted to create a five-person subcommittee to handle invoices, and requiring that payments be made in five business days. Payments would require two signatures for approval and release of payments.
“It got us thinking that we ought to have a process in which the monies flow,” Small said of the need for such a process. “The monies are held by the town of Whitman, the school district would get the invoice, present it to the town and the town will pay the school district — the school district will pay the vendor. I think that’s a pretty easy way of doing things.”
Small pointed to the larger staff at the school district to be able to facilitate invoicing.
“It’s also a nice check and balance, because the monies do have to flow through Whitman as well,” he said. “I just think we should have the ability to sign off on them before they go to the town or before they get paid.”
School District Business Manager John Stanbrook said invoices typically are turned around within 30 days.
Committee member Randy LaMattina, a selectman, suggested a smaller warrant subcommittee be appointed for signing off on payments.
Small suggested taking the School Committee’s approach of having three committee members sign warrants, with the balance of the committee voting on them at the following meeting.
But, on Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Szymaniak’s suggestion that the warrants be uploaded to Google Drive so committee members can review them, Small suggested that approvals be made after invoices are placed in Google Drive, asking for questions or objections be emailed. Since the building study committee is not legally required to sign off on payment warrants with a formal vote, as the School Committee is bound to do.
Assistant Superintendent George Ferro said it is still wise to form a small subcommittee to review questions and objections.
“We’re only talking feasibility,” LaMattina said. “There really shouldn’t be a tremendous amount of invoices. We’d have to have a different process during the building phase.”
“Once we’re in the building phase, it has to be a totally different dialog,” Szymaniak said.