The Grandview school board has reached a low point in their duty to be honest in informing the community about the actions they are taking. All of the deceptive practices and hype below have happened in the last month.
The Field Turf Hype
The board has been beating the drums over its plans to become a new, open organization. All comments from the public would be solicited, and any plans for improvements to the school were going to be extensively discussed, with meetings open to the public.
The Field Turf Reality
The agenda to the November 15, 2016 board meeting includes the following:
3. Turf Contract
Recommend the board approve a contract with Field Turf for the replacement of Anderson Field synthetic field turf at a cost not to exceed $335,000.00, payable from Anderson Family donations and Permanent Improvement levy funds.
Did you have some questions about the safety of the artificial turf that will be installed on the football field? Have you heard about issues with lead exposure, and increased injuries that might be linked to the artificial turf? Did you have questions about the economic issues of the turf, and wondered if the rental fees charged for the use of the field have done anything to offset the cost? Did you want to express opposition to the use of multi-ton carpets of plastic and rubber, which will need to be disposed of in already overused trash dumps? Too bad, because that train has left the station. The board has spoken, and at great cost the Field Turf will be replaced.
If you remember back when the Field Turf was first installed in 2006, the school did a lot of work trying to get donations from the community, even installing a board at the end of the field to track the money coming in. Nothing like that was even attempted for this replacement of the turf (why?) The board is implying that money will be donated by the Anderson Family, but nothing has been announced, even though this should have been the time for the money to be forthcoming. Maybe the Andersons though the first donation to get the turf started was all they needed to do, and don’t want to be on the hook for the next hundred years for the school turf?
The Feedback Hype
Superintendent Culp wrote a story in the October 26 Tri-V News, titled “Feedback from every resident crucial to planning.” He went on at great length about the facilities planning process, and how he wanted to everyone to “Join the Conversation.” He said that all participation and feedback is valued, and appreciated.
The Feedback Reality
The school website has a number of videos that were taken during public meetings about the facilities process. Go to the linked page on the school website, then skip forward to the five minute mark, where Culp talks about a slide titled “Rumors that I have heard”. Culp list about ten things he read that might be in the future of the school (most were not directed at him, they were posts that had been found on Facebook and other social media.)
These were things that people had said, in the vacuum of any official leadership positions from the board or the Facility Task Force. To fill that lack of information, people had made guesses at where the school was headed, and how the process would proceed.
At first the list is just read, but then about halfway through, he makes a joke, and it becomes clear what he was getting at with this list. These were funny, crazy, uninformed rumors! Culp made it clear that anything that was said about the facilities process that didn’t come from his office was dangerous misinformation, open for ridicule in front of the large crowd of people attending the meeting.
I sent an email to Mr Culp after that meeting, this is part of what I said:
Suppose that there was a student who was involved in a project with a large group of students, and as part of a presentation this student was making, he put up a PowerPoint slide of “things he has heard other student are saying”. This student then went through the list, and encouraged the classroom to laugh and discount the things that were on the board.
Would you praise the student who took statements from others, with no permission? Would you tell him it was OK to put those words up on a public classroom wall, even though the other students had no idea they would be quoted?
Would you tell this student that getting the other students in the classroom to laugh at the statements on the wall was a good tactic, because belittling and humiliation of others is a good way to get your point across?
Would you tell this student that setting an example of laughter at the statements of others was a good idea in a group process, because after the other students had heard their ideas laughed at, they would probably stop submitting ideas to the group?
Strangely, Mr. Culp would not answer my question about the theoretical student. According to him, everything he said that evening was OK. I guess this is what we can expect from Culp when parents and community members “Join the Conversation”.
The HPG Hype
On Oct 27th the Tri-V News asked the board and the superintendent why they had broken off with Kevin Harrison of HPG, the consulting firm who had done a large review of the school facilities. Even when asked repeatedly to explain what had happened, Culp would only say “the two sides have irreconcilable differences.” None of the board members would answer the reporter’s questions.
Keep in mind, when Culp was saying nothing but “irreconcilable differences” to the reporter, he was not just talking as one person, that was the official position of the school. The school didn’t think the community needed anything more than “irreconcilable differences”. Culp has said nothing more informative in any emails to the parents about HPG.
The HPG Reality
There is no question what the board was saying about HPG and Kevin Harrison at the special board meeting, it was all recorded. Board member Truett had at least four different reasons why the board was unhappy with Harrison, and made it clear that it was all his fault for being “unprofessional”. He had problems with the way HPG did the review of the facilities, and how HPG presented his conclusions on the facilitates. From the way HPG was discussed in the meeting, all of the work produced by him should have been thrown in the trash.
Why would the board have two very different statements about HPG? Why would the board insist on a non-answer to a reporter, when that reporter had undoubtedly watched the video of the meeting, and knew exactly what was said at the official board meeting?
Do you get the feeling that the board has one thing to say to the reporters, another thing to say in meetings, and probably a third and fourth explanation of what happened when they discuss it among themselves outside board meetings?
If reality is just something to be bent to suit the audience you are speaking in front of at the moment, how can anything the board says be trusted?