School Finance Committee report May 29

Published May 30, 2018 by justicewg

Finance report may29The school’s Finance committee, the closed group that refused to share meeting notes, finally gave its report to the community last night. As expected, they followed closely to the plans the school administration has been pushing, with small changes.

The big question before the report was presented was, what they were doing in the closed meetings? They were more than two months late in presenting the findings. I’m still processing all the documents and the video of the meeting, but I think they answered my question – they were not taking so long because they were evaluating the faults in the plans pointed out by the Good for Grandview group, and others. If the performance of the committee last night was representative of the general tone of the meetings, the delay was caused by self-important bloviation by some committee members.

Only the middle school replacement was on the table

The school administration repeated often that the finance committee was going to be an independent group that would have all options on the table. That was a lie – the group members themselves said that their work was only an “audit” of the 50 million dollar “tear down the middle school” choice. No time was spent on evaluating cheaper options that could have renovated the middle school. The only real changes the group made to the administration plans was to add an additional $5 million for things like a connector between the new middle school and the high school.

Why was the committee looking at an operating levy?

Part of the recommendation of the finance group was to suggest that the board add a one mill operating levy onto the request for 7.5 mills to build and renovate the schools. Why was this group considering an operations fund? That was a purely political question that should only  have been considered by the school board. The answer they gave was that adding operations funding was a “holistic approach”. I think by holistic, they mean that it gives the board leverage to hold the students hostage – pass our levy, or your kid gets services taken away, we close down class options, we add fees back for activities.

Scare tactics will be in full effect

The finance report spent a page of the report on “safety and security”, and told us all about how we needed to be adding “basic security measures” that are lacking in the old schools. Never miss a chance to freak parents out about school shootings, if it will pass the levy. You can be sure that these security options will also be used as levers to pass the operations part of the levy – vote for the tax, or we will not have the money to protect your kids from anyone with a gun who wants to walk into the school.

For a little history of the school using scare tactics to push for more money, read the history of the SRO in the school. They used the threat of Al-Qaeda terrorism to push for a police officer in the school. Not kidding!

Culp “fully committed” to open Finance committee meetings, until he wasn’t

The video of the finance comm. report has been posted on the school website. One of the questions you might have about the meeting is the insistent questioning by parents – where are the finance comm. meeting notes we were promised? Why were the meetings closed to the public? Watch this short video to understand why that was so important to many parents.

A community member asks superintendent Culp about the Finance committee, asks if there will be notice of meetings, public participation, minutes online. Culp says “I fully commit to that, I don’t think you can do it any other way.”

If you are pedantic, you might say he didn’t use the words “promise” when he said those words. But “Fully committing” is good enough to call it a promise. Culp didn’t say a word last week when questions were being asked about his commitment. He doesn’t answer questions via email. The board refuses to even acknowledge that Culp made a promise at meeting seven.

Standing by your word is what gives a person integrity. Failing to answer questions shows a lack of honor. Culp has a big problem, and if he is too cowardly to answer questions, the board should step up and tell us – why was the Facilities Task force closed to the public, and meeting notes kept secret? Why, even after Culp promised to have an open fiance committee, was the door slammed shut?

Those are important questions, and the split in the community cause by the failure to address these questions might cause the failure of the levy.

Even if you don’t care about those questions, and just want to see the board fix up the schools, you should be asking the board why they are not answering those questions. Because you are going to see a long protracted fight, because the school board can’t fess up and answer questions they don’t want to answer.

Part two on the finance committee report, a detailed look at the meeting video, is now posted on my blog.

Taking the survey on the finance committee report

The school has set up an online survey to again take info from residents. If you click the link on the email sent out by Culp, you might get a warning that the link could be a fraud, because the link is not going directly to the sawtooth survey, it first goes to the SchoolMessenger servers. They will harvest your IP address, and might even be able to link your click to your email address. So you might be tracked by the school – they might be maintaining a database of those who are giving nonsupporting answers on the survey. The link below will take you directly to the online survey.

(As of 6-17-18, the survey is closed)

Note that using this link will block the school from using the SchoolMessager software from tracking you, but the IP address you use to complete the survey can still be tracked if they want.

The survey starts with heavy manipulation by asking “how satisfied are you with Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff as a place to live”. Then it asks how satisfied you are with the school’s quality of education, and use of school funds. The way they are pushing with these questions is to get you to agree that that the city and schools are good (true!), and therefore it must follow that you agree that the school board is doing a good job (not really related, and there is no place to give your opinion of the board).

And once again, the survey uses the effective mills number to claim taxes are low, while ignoring the real, voted total mills, which is one of the highest in the county. The board seems to have made a decision to never mention real voted mills again, so in their bunker that means the total voted mill number doesn’t exist, and anyone who talks about it is a lying idiot who is spreading misinformation.

And of course, there is no place to add a free text message to the survey. The board doesn’t want your opinion, unless it fits in the slots they have given you.

Check back for more on the finance committee report as I complete more digging into the details.

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4 comments on “School Finance Committee report May 29

  • Did any community member question the need to tear down the middle school cafeteria, kitchen and gym, which are much newer additions? Couldn’t they be incorporated into a new building instead of wasted?

    • I didn’t stick around for all of the comments, don’t know if someone asked that question. There was a video camera in the back of the auditorium, at some point the school should post that video. If they feel like it. If they feel that the video doesn’t show enough support from the community (and most of the comments were not supportive) it wouldn’t surprise me if they “lost” the video.
      (Later) The video of the meeting is now up, nobody asked the question about saving the new sections of the middle school. If I had to guess what the school administration would say, they have plans that require using the space now occupied by the commons and the gym. Saving them would require a complete re-planning of the construction, and they are not in the mood to do anything except the quick tear down plan.
      After the levy fails, the board might be ready for changes, like saving the commons and gym.

  • In the initial assessment, RLS was said to need over $6M of repairs. This was the foundation of the justification for spending over $45M. Now, we’re being told that RLS does NOT need these $6M in repairs. So, either the community will have to come up with $6M for RLS at some point in the near future OR the initial assessment was wildly incorrect.
    I wonder which one it is?

    • Or the renovation of Stevenson is being cut by the people who want to see the building torn down. A few more years of maintenance neglect by the school board, and they will tell us that Stevenson is a death trap, and requires being closed.

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