artificial turf

All posts tagged artificial turf

School board Hype vs Reality

Published November 15, 2016 by justicewg
Somebody needs a math lesson.

This donation board was used during the failed attempt to solicit donations to completely pay for the Field.

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?

culp-leads-laughter

Culp leads the crowd into laughter about parent statements

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”.

board-meeting-10-18-16-special-morningThe 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?

The FieldTurf Loan (G.W)

Published August 20, 2015 by justicewg
This donation board was used during the failed attempt to help the Andersons pay for the Anderson Field.

This donation board was used during the failed attempt to help the Andersons pay for the Anderson Field.

A re-post from November 2006. The school board pushed though an expensive plan to dig up the grass football field and install a FieldTurf surface, after months of assuring everyone who spoke against this project that donations would cover all of the cost, they failed and had to take out a $175K loan. This incident was also notable because of the unique argument the board tried to push, they said the cell towers belonged to the board, therefore the money from rents on the towers belonged to the board, and they didn’t have to take public comments on the use of that money – it was their money to spend as they pleased.

The turf project was also a time-bomb, the board minimized the cost of the replacement of the turf after 10 years, but it was estimated to be a $250K project. Read on for this story, then see my postscript where I show what the board now estimates the replacement turf will cost in 2017 (hint, $250K was way low).

(From November 2006)

The Grandview school board has voted to take out the full $175K loan that they had previously approved for the construction of the FieldTurf project. Remember the claims by the board that no taxpayer money would be used? That the fund raising would find $175K, as they asked for with their inaccurate donation board? It now appears that the $50K in hand from donations will barely cover the cost overrun announced at the Nov. meeting.

It was bad enough when they decided to pre-approve the $175K loan before the fund raising project had even begun, thus insuring that the donations would be small. Who wants to help fund a project that has already been pre-paid? How do you tell people that they should help the Andersons fund the Anderson field?

The worst part of the affair is the duplicitous claim that “The loan will be paid with income from the cell towers, and this is not taxpayer money because the tower leases are not publicly owned”. The board members and the superintendent tried to come up with explanations for this theory, but they failed. The land that the towers occupy is owned by the public. The money from the leases has been going into the general fund, which is part of the publicly accounted and taxpayer owned school fund (and if anyone thinks that educational funds are not owned by the public, they have not been paying attention to DeRolph v. State since 1991).

If the board was honest, they would simply have said “Yes, we will be using taxpayer money for the FieldTurf, we judge this to be a good use of school funds.” Maybe the attempt made by board members Heydinger and Cameron to restore $80K worth of cuts to the activities at the school (in the Nov 22 TVN, no link to the TVN news website because it sucks) at the Nov. meeting is an admission that school funds were used on the FieldTurf? And that they now want to spread some non-existent extra money to other activities as a way to buy off criticism of the FieldTurf project?

Board president McLeod is quoted as saying “Any part of the $175K not used will help to pay off the loan, or be used as “seed money” for the replacement turf needed in 10 years”. I don’t expect our board members to have degrees in economics, but those two statements are so stupid I have to comment.

If you have loan money left over after a project, you have wasted money. It costs money to take out a loan, every dollar that is not used is costing interest that you didn’t need to pay. The correct way to do a project is to take out loans as they are needed.

You don’t take out a loan for “seed money” for a project 10 years in the future. The cash will be costing the district more money as it sits unused in the bank. Duh. The frightening thing with our school board is that they probably don’t have the economic intelligence to understand these simple concepts.

(End story from 2006)

I wonder if that money that McLeod was going to use as seed money for the replacement of the turf is still sitting in an account somewhere. The school will need every penny they can dig up – they now project the cost will be $365K, and be needed by 2017.

While reading through the school board meeting notes, I found that they were still paying off this loan for the turf as late as 2014. If you are wondering why the board has not set some money aside in preparation for the turf replacement, the answer is that they were still paying off the old loan.

Poor planning and deceptive actions

Why is this story about a failed plan by the board to raise money still of interest?

Suppose you had a friend who wanted to start a business, and showed you a business plan that assumed a lot of money would flow in to get the business off the ground. The friend then quit his job, and after the money didn’t show up, came to you with a sad story about how he was in big trouble and needed you to loan him a lot of money, fast. You would probably sit him down and explain that if his business plan was based on assumptions that were not true, he has let optimism overwhelm reality. He needs to get real.

A school board that assumes it will get a lot of donations and will be able to build a big new project, then charges ahead with the project before the donations are in the bank, is similar to the unfortunate friend with the failed business. What made this project even worse was that the board was so out of touch with reality that they couldn’t even acknowledge they had failed, and came up with a dumb story that the cell towers were free money.

When you have a school board that is insular, out of touch, actively tries to keep anyone from knowing what they are doing, and ignores all criticism – that is the kind of environment that produces boards that make big mistakes. It was true 10 years ago, and it is true today.

Artificial turf – (G.W.)

Published February 23, 2012 by justicewg

The story of the artificial turf project is a continuation the school board’s failure to allow the public a voice in school projects. The $175K needed to complete the project was never raised as the board promised, and the money had to taken out of the general fund. And get ready for more school money to be diverted to field turf, because the entire  field will need replaced (estimated at a quarter million dollars) by 2016.

(This article first posted in 2006)

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