KINGSPORT – Forget the golden tickets of Willy Wonka film lore. Kingsport City Schools are doing better by getting cheaper Golden TVs.
Board of Education member Todd Golden’s quick internet search of television prices in the middle of a school board meeting in January saved the system more than $25,000 and resulted in the purchase more televisions.
Not bad for less than a minute of work on the web.
When Golden took a quick look at TV prices online at the January 11 BOE meeting, he quickly flagged the idea of piggybacking on a contract from another school system to buy the televisions, the price of which, he said, had clearly fallen since the signing of the initial contract. negotiated by Sevier County.
“We’re going to call them Mr. Golden TVs, Golden TVs,” board chairman Jim Welch joked.
The board voted 5-0 on Jan. 11 to reject a proposal to purchase 77 69.5-inch Samsung 4K LED TVs, complete with cords, delivery and installation for $109,648 before the start of the 2022-23 school year in August. Central Technologies Inc.’s televisions were to be purchased at a contract price previously negotiated with Sevier County schools and open to all school systems in Tennessee.
“I just see about a $30,000 overcharge there,” Golden said at the meeting, comparing deal prices to Amazon and Best Buy prices for the same TVs.
“I’m just trying to be a good steward of our taxes,” Golden said, adding that the price of the televisions in question had likely come down since the Sevier County contract was struck. “If we could save 20,000,000, that’s real money.”
Chief Financial Officer David Frye said the system has until June 2024 to use Emergency Aid for Elementary Secondary Schools, or ESSER 3.0, money, but the plan calls for all devices to be installed before back to 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 with a new proposal to buy TVs via a low bid that easily beat Sevier County’s contract price, and the board approved the purchase 5-0.
Buying a 69.3-inch Samsung LED smart TV got a low offer of $1,230 from Y&S Technologies. With 130 units, that equates to $159,900, a savings of $25,225 over the original proposal if the most TVs 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 for both proposals included accessories and installation, Frye said.
In another budget action on Tuesday, the council rejected offers for lighting and sound upgrades at Dobyns-Bennett High School, which are to be funded by an anonymous benefactor who agreed to pay $600,000 for the works. The problem is that only two offers from February 15 qualified because one was unsigned, and the signed one was for $1.32 million instead of the estimated $500,000.
“We’re looking at a way forward with this proposal,” Frye said, adding that a new bid would likely isolate sound and lighting projects.
Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse said he and other school officials were meeting with the anonymous donor on Wednesday to discuss the situation. “It was more than double what had been estimated,” Moorhouse said.
The board also approved the purchase of:
• 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 prices are $202.50 per machine and $29.15 per license. The source is the regular operating budget.
• 215 Dell Latitude teacher laptops and active pens for $217,416.60 from Dell Marketing LP. That’s priced at $958.75 per laptop and $52.49 per stylus. Moorhouse said teachers, through an advisory group, requested the machines and the funding source is ESSER 3.0.
• E-rate category two networking equipment, internal connections and basic maintenance, for $179,009 from Person Computer Systems and funded by E-rate budget 2022-23.
• Three eight-passenger vans from an internal DB activity fund for $103,005, or $34,335 each, under a state contract with Lonnie Cobb Ford. Two are additional vans to the pool available for DB activities and those of other schools when available, while the third will replace an older van which, in turn, will be sold to the Cora Cox Academy alternative school in the school system to replace “Rusty,” an even older pickup used there.
• Submissions for middle and high school photography to Lifetouch and elementary school photography to Photogenius.