It is always interesting to compare the accounts of School Board meetings found at the school’s website and in the local newspaper with a review of the actual meeting. This past Tuesday’s School Board work session was no exception.
The district’s website summary continues to provide the least information as it is always a massaged and slanted account intended only to put forth the company line. The News Graphic accounts are somewhat better but still manage to miss the bigger story going on in the background. Here’s what really went on at Tuesday’s meeting.
Unlike school board members past, our two new members are paying more attention. Where once board members might have read the bold type at the top of a document, or better yet looked at any pretty pictures it might contain, our two new members not only read what they are being asked to approve, they also comprehend. Having already seen plenty of efforts to slip things past them in their short tenure, they discovered another biggy Tuesday evening. And this one was just as we had warned.
Recall our blog post from Oct 19th titled “All To Preserve A False Legacy”. In it we revealed the underhanded filing with the state of a form called a BG1 that the district claimed was necessary to start the process to build a second high school. The problem was that the form filed described a fall 2012 proposal to build an $8 million satellite classroom building next to ECS. The Director of Facilities characterized this filing as a necessary “placeholder” to start the second high school construction process. In our post we called it what it really was, “a backup default plan to get the “single high school” faction’s preferred solution built asap in event of a tax increase recall”.
At Tuesday’s meeting the district tried to slip the next part of this single high school agenda past the board under letter “c” of the Request For Proposals (RFP), a document inviting proposals from architects. Letter “c” stipulated that any proposal submitted for a second high school would also propose a “phased” (read – satellite classroom building) construction approach in the event the Board’s recently passed 27% tax increase was recalled by the voters.
Unreported in the News Graphic was what happened next. Having discovered letter “c” earlier in the day when she first received this document, acting Chair JoAnna Fryman (oh yeah, the paper also failed to report Board Chair Roger Ward was absent) ripped the district a new one. While complicit Becky Sams remained mum, JoAnna, Haley Conway and Jennifer Holbert reminded the district that the Board had never agreed on a phased approach should the tax increase be recalled and insisted the language be removed from the document.
Also absent from this meeting (of all meetings) was always present Facilities Director Mike Luscher, aka “the conduit” and crafter of letter “c”. His absence allowed the lame excuse that although the language under letter “c” said exactly what it said, he must have meant something else. But since he wasn’t there, no one could know! Convenient don’t you think? But mostly offensive. How much more of this will our new members tolerate before heads roll?
Also unreported was Becky Sam’s reminder of just how deep “in the tank” she is. When the no brainer decision whether or not to advertise the RFPs was discussed, Becky saw no reason to advertise. Wow! Basically she was saying “let’s appease Mr. Conway and appear to seek architects other than perennial architect Sherman, Carter and Barnhart (SCB), but let’s not let the other architects know about it". Again, offensive.
Also discussed was a requirement to secure a “building assessment” before a 2014 Local Planning Committee (LPC) can be convened. The assessment could cost as much as $67,000 but the Superintendent told the Board that if they would choose Sherman, Carter and Barnhart to perform the assessment, it could be had for only $8,000 (this because SCB had performed previous assessments and had all the information needed at the ready). Let us remind the Board that any information in SCB’s hands belongs to you. You can provide it to any other architect who then may be able to beat SCB’s $8,000.
This latest episode affirms our warnings and we maintain that a ridiculous 27% tax increase was perpetrated by the string pullers to keep a single high school and divert blame for the Board’s failings onto the public when the recall is successful. Please help us educate.