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Virginia Supreme Court rules Spotsylvania schools improperly awarded custodial contract in 2010
By PAMELA GOULD
The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled Spotsylvania's School Board erred in not awarding its custodial contract to the lowest bidder two years ago.
As a result, the School Board voted this week to change providers, effective July 1.
Professional Building Maintenance Inc. of Stafford County provided the lowest bid for school cleaning services in spring 2010 but was not awarded the contract.
Instead, it went to SSC Service Solutions Inc., a Knoxville, Tenn.-based company that operates under the same corporate umbrella--Compass Group North America--as the Spotsylvania schools' food service provider, Chartwells School Dining Service.
The School Board improperly applied what's known as the "best value" method for awarding the janitorial contract in 2010, the Virginia Supreme Court said in its April 20 opinion.
Justice Elizabeth A. McClanahan wrote that the court would need to "add language" to the law for that method to be applied.
Best-value procurement can be used for awarding "professional services" contracts, but custodial work does not fall into that category, the court noted.
Instead, the School Board should have awarded the bid under the customary process for public contracts, in which competitive sealed bids are submitted and the low bid is selected if it meets the needs of the job.
On Monday night, the Spotsylvania School Board voted unanimously to award PBM the contract for the 2012-13 school year. That one-year contract has the option of being renewed.
Board member Ray Lora, who moved for approval, said he was pleased for PBM's owners and applauded their perseverance.
"I know for sure they will do a great job," Lora said. "And I am very happy for them. I congratulate them for fighting this all the way up to the [state] Supreme Court. Once again, justice was served."
Attorney Courtney Moates Paulk of Hirschler Fleischer represented PBM throughout its appeals and spoke on the company's behalf this week.
"Both of us are satisfied and pleased with the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling and the manner in which the School Board has responded to the Supreme Court opinion," Paulk said.
PBM previously served school divisions in Stafford and Caroline counties and has been in the cleaning business for nearly four decades. Its client list includes GEICO, Mary Washington Healthcare and Pratt Medical Center.
School Board attorney Jennifer Parrish said Monday that PBM has agreed to consider current Service Solutions employees when it decides how to staff the Spotsylvania contract.
The schools have been gradually moving from division employees to contracted employees for custodial services.
Contract staff clean in middle and high schools, the central office and all administrative buildings. The Career and Technical Center was added to contracted services for fiscal 2013.
So far, the board has chosen against outsourcing at elementary schools.
PBM has agreed to provide service for the same price it offered when it placed its bid in March 2010.
Documents filed in the case show that PBM's bid of $1,794,809 annually was $249,721.68 lower than SSC's bid for one year. That would amount to a savings of about $1.25 million over five years.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972