March 21, 2013

497 words 3 mins read

Rockwood School District Wants More Money But State Audit Found It Mismanages The Money It Has

Were Rockwood School District to shut down, the entire bond-issue-campaign-financing industry would slump into depression.

[caption id=“attachment_12113” align=“alignright” width=“284”]Rockwood School District Hasn’t Learned Rockwood School District wants another $38 million bond issue on the heals of scathing audit of its financial management practices.I’ve lived in this district since 1996, and I honestly don’t remember an April in which the board wasn’t asking for more money to carpet the football fields or remodel 12-year-old theatres or build an observatory or whatever.[/caption]

Yes, the education is good. But it was good before the building binge started in the late 1990s. And a lot of that quality education has to do with great teachers and strong families. I’m no expert, but my guess is that if you replicated Rockwood’s structural facilities inside the city limits of St. Louis, the quality of education in the city wouldn’t budge.

A few years ago, Eileen Tyrell and Lisa Hunt Earls formed Rockwood Stakeholders to give some oversight to the district. Their work has been remarkable. They pulled together real experts and sincere, level-headed citizens into an organization that should be replicated in every school district in the country.

Last year, Rockwood Stakeholders succeeding in getting an audit of the district from State Auditor Tom Schweich.  The results were less complimentary to the district. (Yes, that’s understatement.) And mismanagement of construction money was the biggest problem uncovered.

So now RSD has another ballot initiative on the April 2 ballot. Here’s how Rockwood Stakeholders summarized the temerity of asking for money when you can’t handle the money you’ve been granted:

As an advocate group for taxpayers, parents, employees and students of the Rockwood School district, RS for RS feels the Board and district officials needs to work on rebuilding the community’s trust and credibility which was lost over the recent disclosure of questionable and unethical business practices involving bond construction, vendor and consultant contracts and the lack of transparency.

I agree. So I say:

Vote No on Prop S on April 2.

While some of the objectives of the proposal are worthwhile, most of the board and its administration remains the same people called out in the state audit.

Vote for New Blood on the Board on April 2

Now comes Andrew Bemus, student Opinion Editor of the Marquette High School online newspaper The Messenger.

Andrew reviews the audit’s findings and proposes a smart solution: elect two new board members on April 2, and make it two people with fresh perspectives.

That leaves voters with two candidates for two seats. Those candidates are teacher Loralee Mondl and Business Executive Jeffrey Morrell. Both of these candidates bring something to the table that is badly needed.

A Rockwood teacher and a businessman who come from outside the present board.

Make sense to me.

Thanks for the tip, Andrew. You saved me a lot of research for the April 2 election. And thanks to Eileen, Lisa, Doug, and the folks who work so hard to keep Rockwood School District effective and efficient.