KINGSPORT — Forget Willy Wonka’s golden tickets of movie lore. Kingsport City Schools is going one better by getting less expensive Golden televisions.
Board of Education member Todd Golden’s quick internet search of TV prices, done in the middle of a January school board meeting, has saved the system more than $25,000 and resulted in more TVs purchased.
Not bad for less than a minute’s work on the web.
When Golden took a quick gander at TV prices online during the Jan. 11 BOE meeting, he quickly flagged the idea of piggybacking on a contract of another school system to buy the TVs, which he said had obviously fallen in price since the original contract was negotiated by Sevier County.
“We’re going to call them the Mr. Golden TVs, Golden TVs,” board President Jim Welch quipped.
The board voted 5-0 on Jan. 11 to reject a proposal to buy 77 Samsung LED 4K 69.5-inch TVs, with cords, delivery and installation for $109,648 before the 2022-23 school year begins in August. The TVs from Central Technologies Inc. were to be purchased at a previously negotiated Sevier County Schools contract price open to all school systems in Tennessee.
“I just see about $30,000 of overcharging there,” Golden said during the meeting in comparing the bid prices to Amazon and Best Buy prices for the same TVs.
“I’m just trying to be a good steward of our tax dollars,” Golden said, adding that the price of the TVs in question likely had fallen since the Sevier County contract was done. “If we could save 20 grand, that’s real money.”
Chief Finance Officer David Frye said the system has until June 2024 to use the Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER 3.0, money, but that the plan is for all the devices to be installed before the start of school in August.
The new plan was to present a new proposal to the board in April.
Fast-forward to Tuesday night’s voting meeting: Frye presented the board a new proposal to buy TVs via a low bid that easily beat the Sevier County contract price, and the board approved the purchase 5-0.
The 69.3-inch Samsung LED smart TV purchase went to the low bid of $1,230 from Y&S Technologies. With 130 units, that works out to $159,900, or a $25,225 savings from the original proposal if the higher number of televisions had been purchased. The original plan was to buy 77, but with the savings the system increased the amount to 130, Frye explained.
The price of both proposals included accessories and installation, Frye said.
In other budget action Tuesday, the board rejected bids for Dobyns-Bennett High School lighting and sound upgrades, which are to be funded by an anonymous benefactor who has agreed to pay $600,000 for the work. The problem is that only two Feb. 15 bids qualified because one wasn’t signed, and the one signed was for $1.32 million instead of the estimated $500,000.
“We are looking at a path forward with this proposal,” Frye said, adding that a rebid likely will isolate the sound and lighting projects.
Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse said he and other school officials were meeting with the anonymous donor Wednesday to discuss the situation. “It was more than double what was estimated,” Moorhouse said.
The board also approved purchasing:
• 2,000 Chromebooks and 1,000 Chromebook licenses from Dell Marketing LP for $434,150. Existing licenses will cover the other 1,000 machines, and the prices are $202.50 per machine and $29.15 per license. The source is the regular operating budget.
• 215 Teacher Dell Latitude laptops and active pens for $217,416.60 from Dell Marketing LP. That is a price of $958.75 per laptop and $52.49 per pen. Moorhouse said teachers through an advisory group have requested the machines, and the funding source is ESSER 3.0.
• E-rate category two network equipment, internal connections and basic maintenance, for $179,009 from Person Computer Systems and funded by the 2022-23 E-rate budget.
• Three eight-passenger vans from an internal D-B activities fund for $103,005 ,or $34,335 each, from a state contract with Lonnie Cobb Ford. Two are additional vans to the pool available to D-B activities uses and those of other schools when available, while the third will replace an older van that, in turn, will be sold to the school system’s Cora Cox Academy alternative school to replace “Rusty,” an even older van used there.
• Bids for middle and high school photography to Lifetouch and elementary school photography to Photogenius.