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Tiff over generators settled
Withlacoochee River Electric will continue to provide backup power to the school district.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007
Assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose worked out an agreement to keep in place the main office generator.
LAND O'LAKES - Pasco school officials sure are glad they have a generator at the district office on U.S. 41: They needed it all day Thursday after an 18-wheeler hit a power pole and knocked out electricity to the campus.
And it's looking like they'll have the emergency backup into the future, too.
Days after School Board member Allen Altman told his colleagues that Withlacoochee River Electric general manager Billy Brown was threatening to remove the generator and two others amid contract negotiation woes, Brown and assistant superintendent Renalia DuBose hammered out an agreement to keep them in place.
A copy of the amended contract, which comes to the board for a vote on Tuesday, went to each member for review on Thursday afternoon.
"It's a done deal," DuBose said. "He and I talked back and forth and got the deal done for the central office generator. ... We're working on the special needs shelter (at River Ridge High) now."
Brown could not be reached for comment.
The district's contract to keep the generator at the Land O'Lakes campus expired more than a year ago. When the sides began to talk, the electric cooperative asked for about $1,100 monthly to cover the rising cost of diesel fuel.
Previously, the district had not paid for the generators, which cost about $12,000 or more monthly to rent in the open market.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino balked at entering a contract with fuel costs included until she felt comfortable that the generators worked. She said tests were spotty.
The district then refused to pay the fuel fee over several months, because it did not have a contract approved by the superintendent.
On Aug. 14, Brown fired off a letter to Fiorentino saying the co-op would yank the generators. Fiorentino said she tried to contact Brown, but he refused to talk to her.
Brown did contact Altman, though, who told the board Tuesday that he needed some guidance on how to proceed. The board urged Fiorentino and its lawyer, Dennis Alfonso, to work out the details and bring them an agreement as soon as possible.
Fiorentino told them she planned to have a contract to them by Sept. 11. And that's what will happen. It extends the contract a year, and includes the $1,100 monthly payment, adjustable each January.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.