Bartlett school board OKs fence contract, recognizes young artists

From left are board chairman Jeff Norris, board members Bryan Woodruff and Shirley Jackson, student honorees Maria Gonzales and Andrew Cunningham, board members Erin Berry and David Cook, and BCS Superintendent David Stephens. Photo by Jason Sykes.

The Bartlett school board approved a contract Thursday night to install a fence around the Bartlett High School soccer field recently purchased from Bartlett United Methodist Church. It will be an eight-foot vinyl-covered chain-link fence to secure the field and help prevent soccer balls from escaping the area.

The fencing will be along the whole frontage on Ferguson and around to a parking area on the west side of the property.

The contract went to the low bidder, Weston Fence Co., for a price of $25,525. The board also amended the budget to use reserve funds to purchase the property.

The decision came at the board’s Feb. 23 regular business meeting.

During the meeting’s public commentary segment, Meghan Medford, president/managing member of Medford Roofing in Memphis, addressed the board. She questioned why the school board did not choose her firm’s bid for a major re-roofing project at Altruria Elementary and asked the board to reconsider. Her bid was the lowest for the project, and she learned that the bid went to the second-lowest bidder because too few of her references responded. She asked why the school board didn’t make a greater effort to reach out to her reference contacts.

The school board adhered to its policy of not responding to public commentary during a meeting; any responses are made at a later time.

After the meeting, Stephens explained that the school board treats all bidders the same when it comes to notifications and attempts to contact references. He also noted that the second-lowest bidder was within just $6,000 of Medford’s bid on an almost $900,000 project, and it had two high references while Medford only had one reference. By state law, the school board is allowed to choose the bid that is the “lowest and best.”

In other business, the board noted that the state legislature will recognize Stephens as the Tennessee Superintendent of the Year on March 6 after the 5 p.m. session begins.

The board also recognized two young award-winning artists from Bartlett. The Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards program recently chose two Bartlett middle-schoolers as Gold Key winners:

  • Maria Gonzales for her self-portrait, “Do Not Do Drugs.” Superintendent David Stephens read the description of her. “She is an outstanding student who has excelled in the art classroom since sixth grade. She exemplifies what it means to be creative and talented in regards to the visual arts. Her work is not only technically strong, it also captures her unique vision and take on the world around her.” She is an eighth-grader at Bon Lin Middle School, and her visual arts teacher is Jared Parham. Gonzales also won a Silver Key last year.
  • Andrew Cunningham for his short film, “What Does It Mean to Run?” He is also an American Vision Award nominee through the Brooks Museum of Art and the Scholastic Art Competition. There were only four American Vision nominees from our region, and his film will go to New York; the winner will be announced in March. He’s had an interest in film and photography since he was 9, and he has made many films for Appling Middle and the city of Bartlett. He is a seventh-grade student at Appling Middle School, and his teacher is Meredith Wilson.

At the meeting, the board also:

  • Approved a consulting contract for re-roofing Ellendale Elementary.
  • Accepted into the record the district’s January financial report.
  • Had the first reading of a new policy on student surveys.
  • Approved the board’s meeting schedule for the next school year.
  • Amended the FY 2016-17 education capital projects fund for the district.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138, or