1.2 Million Reasons to Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

Do you live in Rockwood School District?

I do. My kids all went to Rockwood schools. My wife taught in a Rockwood school for three years.

The teachers in Rockwood tend to think a lot like the people who live here. They’re not a bunch of wacked-out lefties. Not most of them.

Still, that good education has come with HUGE price tag. Rockwood is one of the most expensive districts in Missouri. Property taxes for residents are almost double the average car payment.

And Rockwood’s board and administrators have a long, ugly history of scandal, corruption, and waste. The Missouri Auditor and the Missouri Ethics Commission practically have field offices at Rockwood’s headquarters.

For me, that last bullet is the root of all Rockwood’s evil. School board members get arrogant and secretive. The Rockwood Board does the bidding of the NEA instead of representing the taxpayers who build and maintain the schools. They use your tax dollars to extort more of your tax dollars. They want it all.

That’s why Rockwood needs a real champion of education and the people.

Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8
Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

If not for Eilleen Tyrrell, that crooked construction company would still be pocketing millions of your tax dollars illegally. Eilleen Tyrrell and Lisa Hunt Earls formed Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions in 2011. Eilleen wanted to give taxpayers a voice.

Eileen Tyrrell gave you a voice, and that voice made your schools better. But it wasn’t easy. RSRS continues to battle the NEA-appointed Board of Education at every turn.

The union bosses and their hand-picked BOE think your money is their play toy. And they don’t like citizen activists like Eileen protected your pockets.

Last year, Eileen made a difficult decision. As one of the boldest, most tenacious ambassadors of accountability in education, Eileen decided she needed to represent you on the inside.

I support and Eileen Tyrrell for Rockwood School Board on April 8th–and every other day of the year.

I meet a lot of people through St. Louis Tea Party activities. Many of those people come out and do a lot of hard work. But that work takes a toll. Most cannot sustain their effort over a long period.

Eileen Tyrrell never gives up. Eileen has fought the good fight–and won–more than anyone I’ve met in the 5 years that the Tea Party has been around.

Now, the NEA is strong-arming teachers to fight Eileen. Some of those union-blinded teachers will put pressure on you and on your kids to stand by the old guard and their secretive, expensive, corrupt ways.

One Rockwood teacher wrote an impassioned Facebook post encouraging you to vote the way her union bosses tell you to vote.

But you’re not like that. You chose to live in Rockwood because you know that hard, honest work wins out. You don’t take orders from union bosses, and you don’t let elected officials secretly divvy out your tax dollars to their friends.

I am confident that you will join me in supporting and electing Eileen Tyrrell on April 8th.

If you believe in government accountability and good schools you will click this link, send Eileen a few dollars to fight the NEA’s millions, and ask just 2 other people to vote for Eileen on April 8th. That’s the only election you need to care about.

Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8th in Rockwood School District.



Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

23 Comments on “1.2 Million Reasons to Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

  1. More misinformation from Mrs. Tyrrell as she seeks to drum-up support for the April 8 School Board election.

    First, what is the “Achievement Gap”? This is not a measure of how well Rockwood students are doing, but instead represents the gap in standardized score performance as measured betwen the Rockwood student average and a smaller cohort of students who meet a state definition of minority ethnic group, race, or special needs.

    Before continuing you should note that the Rockwood student average on standardized tests is well above the state average, and over the last several exam periods has essentially not wavered. Rockwood students performance is among the highest in the state, and is nationally ranked. This is no small feat for a Missouri school since Missouri students, as a whole, perform below the national average. With this perspective, let’s continue.

    What has marginally slipped over the last few testing cycles is the average score of this “disadvantaged” student subgroup. But what does this mean? As a professional scientist I find no smoking gun here.

    The first % is the average score by the ENTIRE Rockwood population and the second % is the average score by this “disadvantaged” group:

    school year 2010-2011 = 70.6% vs. 45.1% (% gap is 25.5)
    school year 2011-2012 = 71.3% vs. 47.3% (%gap is 24.0)
    school year 2012-2013 = 71.1% vs. 43.2% (% gap is 27.9)

    The reader should note that for 2011-2012, the gap actually improved, but then widened in 2012-2013. Also note how tight the average score remains. Although I show the the math results, the Communication Arts results are comparable.

    But beyond student performance, this analysis also tests the limits of population studies. The average score represents thousands of students (Rockwood has ~2000 students per grade level), making the “average” statistically meaningful, and delivering a very tight scoring range. But Rockwood does not have some many “disadvantaged” students meeting the state’s definition of “ethnicity, race, or special needs”. In fact, Rockwood is practically all white, not including many ethnic minorities, either, and these make up the bulk of the “disadvantaged” population in most other school districts.

    The result is that Rockwood’s relatively quite small “disadvantaged” sub-group is too small to provide a statistically valuable average.

    Either Mrs. Tyrrell just does not understand this or she is blowing smoke in an attempt to help her failing campaign for a School Board Seat.


  2. My apologies for the misspellings, I hit enter before I was finished.

    The achievement gap in Rockwood has grown to 60% in Math and 50% in Communication Arts. That is a tell tale sign that we need to give our great teachers more resources and support in the classroom. This achievement gap has been growing over the last several years, an issue discussed, but no clear solutions given.

    Our students deserve all the support necessary for them to succeed.
    As a Board Director I will not shy away from the tough decisions necessary to give our students whatever they need to succeed.

    In Rockwood every administrator has a secretary, yet our primary and elementary level teachers share support aides for their classroom. This is a problem that is showing up in our achievement gap and must be addressed. I will advocate all teachers are heard and they are given what they need in order for their students to succeed.

    Openly discussing these issues does not make me “anti-Rockwood” I believe it makes me “pro-Rockwood”.

    We are only as good as our weakest link.

  3. The reason Rockwood’s expense per student is lower than most is in direct relation to the effects of fudning repairs, maintenance and technology via bonds since 2006.

    To figure the cost per student districts divide their total operating cost by their average daily attendance. With the failed bond issues of 2012 and 2013 the cost per student in Rockwood is rising.

    In regards to the performance, I will let the reader judge for themselves. Below is a link to the district student performance scorecard.

    As a citizen, taxpayer and hopefully a Board Director, after I want more for the Rockwood student. I would like to see all Rockwood students succeed and reach their potential.

    1. Another incorrect statement by Ms. Tyrrell.

      Rockwood’s expenditure per student ranks among the bottom, at 20th out of 22 StL county school districts. This spending is compiled to represent the SPENDING per student, while she is (typical for her) off-track and discussing where she thinks the money comes from.

      And even to this end she is incorrect. The vast majority of spending per child is through the yearly operations budget. Teacher salaries and benefits, utilities, supplies, books, and the like are represented by this spend.

      By their very nature, bonds are used for capital expenditures: equipment purchases, large project building repairs, construction and the occasional long-term software license.

      And Rockwood has failed to pass the last several bond proposals. Taking a moment to compare with neighboring Parkway, they not only spend significantly more per pupil, they have ALSO passed their last several bond proposals.

      I don’t want to justify all of her nutty accusations with replies, but the Rockwood administrator to student ratio is very efficient, so much so that it is in a class of it’s own within the entire state. Should we be surprised that there is a reliance on lower wage secretarial staff to support this efficiency?

      These complaints are in keeping with Mrs. Tyrrells attack-dog style, which unfortunately, is also ill informed.

      1. From the taxpayer’s perspective, Artie, money is money. Whether my taxes go to luxurious theatres or to teachers, it’s money I cannot choose to spend because Rockwood Schools chose to spend it for me.

        You’ve wasted a lot of pixels telling the world that spending on buildings is very important to you. Much more important than spending on teachers or students or better transportation.

        That’s fine. That’s your opinion. But disagreeing with Ms. Tyrrell and me doesn’t make us wrong or you right.

        For the record, my wife’s a teacher, as I’ve chronicled here many times before. So maybe I’m a little biased. I don’t know.

        What’s your dog in this race? Why have you invested so much time and energy and emotion and anger into this blog? For the record, how will this election affect you personally?

        1. Mr. Hennessy communicated to me that I have used a lot of pixels responding debunking his and Eileen Tyrrells outlandish attacks on Rockwood Schools and the School Board members.

          He say that too much money spent is too much money spent. But where do they get “too much money”. Rockwood under-spends nearby parkway by a great deal on a per student basis. In fact, we are near the bottom of the county (20th out of 22 districts). So I think we can interpret this as them meaning that they just don’t want to spend any money now that their own children are out of, or nearly out of school. To paraphrase, they would “cut off your nose to spite their face”. As for me have one boy in college and a daughter in high school, so my not advocating that we not incur their steep cuts in school spending (beyond what has already occurred through the recession), is not about me.

          I don’t think that there is any damage they could do quickly enough to affect my daughter. So I am not speaking from a position of “it’s about me” when I encourage voters to continue to support their schools (which also support property values). Just note that if we compare to the rest of StL country schoold discticts, which include many with much smaller average incomes than Rockwood’s, they support their schools with a greater level of funding than these Tea Party types want.

        2. Rereading Mr. Hennessy’s note to me I realized that I failed to respond to his inquiry about why I was involved. What was my “dog in the fight”. This is a good question and I can attempt a reply. I have not close friend or family member employed by Rockwood schools. But I do have a better than average understanding of just what a good education confers. And when I say good, it is a continuum, and there is always better. But we will focus on the value component. By way of background, I have been around, attending 11 schools districts by 10th grade, being raised by a single mother. But I eventually earned a Ph.D. in chemistry while attending Johns Hopkins Univ, Univ. of Wisc., and Columbia Univ., attending school until I was 29 (and completely broke).

          In my professional career I have mentored many young undergraduates in my laboratories (I am now out of industrial pharma research and an associate professor in academics) and have seen how lacking many modern children are in math, science, and verbal skills. Do I know what a first class education looks like? Well, my son graduated a couple of years ago from one of the Rockwood high schools in 3rd place of 550 students, also a Natl Merit Scholar Finalist. For AP exams, he scored 10 fives and 4 fours. 800 on his SAT verbal score; remarkable for a pre-engineering major boy. My daughter is on the way to replicate this 9she hopes), but she is in the top ten at her H.S. far from “eggheads” I encouraged my kids to play guitar, trumpet, and violin. They both Letter-ed in sports. Rockwood has prepared them well for the outside world and it is very competitive out there. I won’t even go into the undisputed fact that the mest paying jobs of the future will be STEM-type (science / math / engineering), something that American kids are performing quite poorly at, by all measures. My sense of patriotism tells me that we need to fix this if the U.S. is going to remain a place of future high employment.

          I think this education was provided at a great value by Rockwod and other children should have the same opportunity. But I cringe when I hear Eileen Tyrrell speak of cuts, cuts, and cuts. There is no detail to her discussion. As already mentioned in my comments herein, the teacher and administrator salaries in Rockwood are not by any measure “high”. So what would be cut, really? Even you must note that, whether you like the school theater or not, it is there and there is no way to remove it to “un-ring the bell” for construction spending. By the way, my graduation high school did not have a pool, a theater, a track, or even a paved parking lot – and only a couple of my peers went on to college.

          Active citizens need to identify what they would do to achieve better value. Cutting within a district that is already among the more lean in the county seems like hyperbole. So I pose back to you the question, what would you do? Rhetoric is not a solution and you can see that I have looked deeply into RSD spending and know that it comares very favorably to others in the county.

          And, pray tell, what does a car payment have to do with property taxes? if you want a better ratio, then either buy a cheaper car or live way out in the country where taxes are extremely low – and then maybe you too will be sending your kids to a school with few amenities, and your teacher wife (no disrespect here) would earn a far lower salary. You want significantly lower school taxes, go visit a rural school and see how their amenities compare to Rockwood’s and tell me which you would rather pay to send your kids too. A good question.

          Thanks for the opportunity to speak candidly.

  4. Sorry for the typos in the above message; I at the age where I could benefit from reading glasses…

    But continuing; why are property taxes what they are? I don’t know how Rockwood compares to other school districts for tax millage going to the schools, but can make some informative observations, none of which are the fault of those running our Rockwood Schools.

    Compared to the other StL county school districts in the above list, Rockwood’s population growth is relatively new. We have many young families settling in West County and we all see the ever-expanding house construction in Rockwood due to the vacant land available for building. This results in Rockwood having undergone a population boom over the last 20 years, and with the boom came young families and children. This led to the construction of new schools, and expansion of existing schools. We have many relatively new schools, and they also needed equipment purchases, etc.

    While some of the older schools have had their construction bonds paid off, Rockwood has a relatively greater percent of its schools’ construction debt still being paid off. This is also true of other city features, such as the new Chesterfield Town Hall, amphitheater, and aquatic center. Like a home mortgage, these are being paid-off over time.

    There was not much choice in building these schools. Rockwood could have done what one St. Charles county school district did, and avoid new construction by going to year-round classes, where the kids are divided into three groups and they cycle through the year with one group taking “summer” break during each of the three “semesters” making up the year round school year. This is unpopular with families so no surprise this was not done. Or Rockwood could have constructed a multitude of pre-fab detached classrooms and placed the expanding number of students into these. This is also unpopular with parents. It also drags-down property values (as a parent, would you select to buy home in such a district over another one nearby that did not use the pre-fab classrooms?).

    The nature of this is that Rockwood is paying off school expansion construction from the growth era. A recent Rockwood study came to the conclusion that this big growth period is over, and we will see more and more of this debt retired.

  5. Michael,
    You are incorrect. Rockwood’s expenditure per student is near the bottom, at 20th place, among the 22 StL county school districts, and WAY below Parkway, our nearest neighbor district. In increasing order: Bayless ($7559), Mehlville ($8351), ROCKWOOD ($9364), Ritenour ($9402), Riverview Gardens ($9471), Lindbergh ($9529), Hazelwood ($10,493), Affton ($10,709), Jennings ($10,902), Valley Park ($11,158), Hancock Place ($11,302), Ferguson-Florrisant ($11,313), Webster Groves ($11,356), ladue ($11,902), Parkway ($12,121), Kirkwood ($12,210), Normandy ($12,276), University City ($12,288), Pattonville ($14,369), maplewood ($15,088), Brentwood ($17,188), Clayton ($18,372). See p. 9 of:

    Continuing the Parkway comparison since they are near neighbors, they have passed their last several school bond ballots while Rockwood’s last several ballots have failed to pass.

    Further, Rockwood’s teacher salaries were in the lower 25%. They were given a small raise by the Board last fall with the promise that they will eventually be brought-up to near the county average. As for Rockwood school administrators, their salaries were second from the bottom of this 22 school district list. Also note that Rockwood’s administrator to student ratio is the lowest in the state, far more lean than any other district in the county.

    Closing, it should be mention that Rockwood students score in the upper 20%, with Parkway, Ladue, Kirkwood, and Clayton, on standardized tests, the percentage of Nat’l Metic Scholars, scores on AP (advanced placement) exams, etc.

    By any measure, Rockwood provides great value. This data also helps keep your property values high.

  6. “Still, that good education has come with HUGE price tag. Rockwood is one of the most expensive districts in Missouri. Property taxes for residents are almost double the average car payment.” Can you support this statement with some facts? Seems pretty arbitrary to me. I checked my taxes (totaled $3700) of which about 2/3 goes to Rockwood. For sake of argument I will use the full $3700. That equals out to 12 payments of $308. That happens to be lower than my car payment. A google search returned an article that quoted average monthly payments for a new car are at $471 and a used car at $352. That also does not take into account that my home has a value of around $250k and my car is around $15k.

    1. Rockwood does rock!! A great school district with great teachers.

      We need Rockwood to continue providing excellent education to our community, however we cannot stick our heads in the sand place blame elsewhere. If we do not solve the problems, we will eventually fail. Just read the message Hazelwood School District taxpayers sent them.

      Operating expenditures per avg daily attendance (ADA). . . . $ 10,173

      *source Rockwood School District.

  7. I returned to rebut the insinuation that Rockwood residents are overpaying for local education. First notice that Mr. Hennessy (who is not even a Rockwood resident) states that our local taxes are high and implies that Rockwood schools is the reason. I don’t enjoy paying taxes more than anyone else, but this prompted me to look-up how much Rockwood spends per student.

    Focusing on 22 school districts in StL County, Rockwood’s expenditure per pupil ranks 20th. That’s right, Rockwood ($9364/pupil) provides excellent value, especially when you consider that our students’ performance on MEAP, SAT, ACT, AP (advanced college placement) exams, and graduation rates places it in the top four, along with Clayton ($18372/pupil), Ladue ($11,904/pupil), and nearby Parkway ($12,121/pupil). Rockwood schools are a great value by any measure.

    This leaves me wondering if Mr. Hennessy is following Ms. Tyrrell’s lead and simply making stuff up to smear Rockwood. Residents should know that only a portion of their property tax goes to the school district and that the many infrastructure improvements in a newer and growing community such as ours (firehouses, Chesterfield Town Hall, roads and bike paths, parks, city pools, etc.) are relatively early in their pay-off period and that this is the larger driver of our taxes.

    1. Artie,

      Let me point out that I am a Rockwood resident and have been since Feburary 1996, though I don’t expect you to know that. All of my children went to Rockwood schools. And I think the classroom education they received and are receiving is excellent. For the most part, my kids’ teachers were true blessings. There were, of course, exceptions, but they were just that.

      Second, I did not claim that Rockwood residents overpay for education. I did, however, point out that Rockwood’s schools board was found to have squandered money and improperly awarded contracts. If you disagree, you might want to talk to the State Auditor.

      Third, I believe Rockwood’s recentspending on infrastructure, and its methods of strong-arming voters with bond-issues, leaves a lot to be desired. Broadway-quality theatres in the high schools doesn’t help students become Broadway actors. It prepares them for discouragement when they do their first summer stock production in a barn in Nebraska. And that’s just one example of opulence that I’m very familiar with. (Somehow I managed to get a theatre scholarship coming from a high school that used an old storage facility for its productions.)

      While some capital improvements were necessary, and I recognize that, many were not. Election after election, we were asked to approve more borrowing for projects that bundled necessary improvements and additions with unnecessary extravagance. We were told about population growth at the time, but from 2007 to 2011, the student population in Rockwood increase by only 102 students, from 22,721 to 22,823, or 0.0045. I believe that some demographers are over-estimating the re-urbanization trend, I do believe that areas like Rockwood will struggle to increase population over then next generation. From the 2000 to 2010 censuses, most of the cities comprising Rockwood lost population, though only slightly. Eureka, I believe, was the only big gainer.

      So my point is this: Eileen Tyrrell is the only candidate who has been working for all stakeholders–parents, teachers, students, taxpayers. No, she hasn’t been working for the board. The board is there to protect stakeholders and advance their interests. When Eileen and other recognized the board’s failures, they took it upon themselves to give the broader stakeholder population a voice. That voice reached the ear of the State Auditor, and he agreed with RSRS’s assessment.

      1. Here we go again. The State Auditor did NOT determine that RSD (as you put it) squandered taxpayer money. If you search online you will find Auditor Scweich’s report. As I mentioned above, he used the phrase description “possible”, and it was subsequently determined to this satisfaction, just as RSD had already stipulated in their initial rebuttal, also included in his report, that the funds were properly spent.

        If you also search online you can find the record of his 6-month check-back to RSD and he no longer lists this as an issue.

        So why do you guys keep bring it up? If this is all Ms. Tyrrell has to offer then it is thin gruel, indeed.

        Separately, as I indicated, our expenditure per student is fantastically low, especially for a high performing district.

        The high schools have theaters… that is a big problem? Don’t get me wrong, and I have to admit that I am a science guy, but most schools in this demographic have theaters. Also note that by far the largest-cost item are the indoor pools…. but again, this is common in this demographic. maybe I can shorten this by asking what specific capital feature does Rockwood include that is not common for this demographic?

        p.s. my mistake for stating that you were not a RSD resident and thanks for the correction. I sometimes see Eileen’s friends from Parkway and elsewhere throw their two cents in. And note that Parkway passed their past several Bond issues, while also spending about 20-25% more per student than Rockwood.

        1. Mr. Hennessy,

          As described above, Rockwood had a legal review of the “possible” over-payments as well as solicited the review by a project management expert. Both concluded these were not over-payments. This conclusion contradicts your central tenet so I am interested to hear your response. If the Missouri auditor, legal and project management experts concluded this is not an issue why do you continue to report that it is?

        2. Mr McCown, the reason the overpayments cannot be returned is largely due to the fact that the Board of Education approved those payments. If the board had been doing their due diligence and asking the appropriate questions rather than simply rubberstamping the 1.2 million would have never been “over paid”.

          Please keep in mind that Directors Kinder and Doell approved those overpayments! It should also be noted that, Director Doell is the Vice President of Sachs Electric with contract experience. How many classroom support staff could we have hired for 1.2 or better yet, what additional construction projects could have been completed.

          These are FACTS and the referenced source is Rockwood School District Boarddocs

          Common sense does not require credentials and credentials do not always come with common sense.

          It is time to put the responsibility where it belongs; squarely on the Board of Directors, at the time of the poor decisions and failed leadership. Directors Kinder and Doell are the last 2 incumbents of that board, their leadership got us into this mess and we cannot count on them to get us out of it.

          Simply put, the trust of the entire Rockwood community must be restored. The only way to move beyond the past is to vote it out once and for all.

  8. This article is misleading to the point where it presents out and out lies. But this is in keeping with Ms. Tyrrell and certain of her supporters, and Mr. Hennessy is among the most dishonest.

    The so-called $1.2 Mil paid to the construction company was deemed in the post-audit follow-up to be properly paid for services rendered.

    While the State Auditor, who made a policies & procedures audit of RSD referred to a (and I quote) “possible double/over payment” to the construction company, the emphasis was on “possible”. While the Auditor’s report included that Rockwood School District (RSD) believed that this money was properly paid, the raised issue compelled them to have legal counsel investigate (at taxpayer expense) to determine if there could any grounds for recovery. But the determination was made that this money was indeed owed to the construction company and that it was not a “double/overpayment”, which is why Rockwood paid it in the first case. In fact, when Auditor Schweich returned to RSD for his 6-month check back he did did not mention this so-called issue, recognizing as a result of RSD followup that it was indeed properly owed to the construction company. So no money was overspent, stolen, or lost. This is the whole story. But certainly not the story Ms. Tyrrell and Mr. Hennessy want the voters to hear and they continually attempt to smear RSD with this in a small-minded attempt to glorify Ms. Tyrrell.

    As for the teacher’s union “strong-arming teachers” to vote against Ms. Tyrrell… Pray tell how this occurs when the April 8 election is a secret ballot, like all of our voting activities?

    Mr. Hennessy mentions the Tea Party, which is a loose amalgamation of persons with no formal leader. platform, or set of defined goals. While there are many good people who consider themselves “Tea Partiers”, the organization also contains some bad apples who are small minded, ego-driven, dishonest, and incapable of rational thought. The reader can best decide which category Ms. Tyrrell and Mr. Hennessy fall into.

    Ms. Tyrrell has a lengthy record of distributing misinformation that serves to attack Rockwood schools, its teachers, its administrators, and other members of the board past and present. Her communique’s, poorly written as they are, contain falsehoods that, to the unknowing, give the appearance of supporting the inflammatory headline. But it is made up.

    I throw down this challenge: respond of my description of the disposition of the $1.2 M, information which I went to great pains to research myself, with your description of underlying events. Or will you just stick to your statement of graft with no underpinning facts?

    I leave the readers with this quote.
    “We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.” ― Arne Tiselius (Nobel Prize award address, 1948)

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