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Citizens’ Group Concerned About Rockwood Ballot Issue

Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions representatives say a pending Missouri auditor’s report is expected to be on the mind of voters on April 2.

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Editor's Note: The following was provided as a news release from RS for RS, which is a self-described non-partisan group of taxpaying Rockwood School District citizens who seek transparency, fiscal responsibility and inclusion of parents and taxpayers in the decision-making process of the district. 

Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions coalition citizens announced their concerns over the Rockwood School District Board of Education directors voting to put another ballot issue on the April 2 ballot. 

As an advocate group for taxpayers, parents, employees and students of the Rockwood School district, RS for RS feels the Board and district officials need 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. 

“It is premature for district officials to believe they can garner nearly 60 percent of the voters support this April when they’ve yet to acknowledge or apologize to the district stakeholders for what has been characterized as a complete lack of strong, decisive leadership in the area of fiscal and operational business practices,” said Eileen Tyrrell, RS for RS Spokesperson, in the release.

In addition, the community is still awaiting the result of a comprehensive Compliance Audit Report from the Office of State Auditor, Tom Schweich. 

In November 2011, RS for RS Advisors asked the State Auditor’s Office to consider putting Rockwood School District on their 2012 Audit List. In January 2012 a spokesperson from the Auditor’s Office confirmed to RS for RS Co-Founders Lisa Hunt Earls and Eileen Tyrrell that an audit of Rockwood was scheduled to begin the second half of 2012. 

The audit fieldwork began in July 2012 and wrapped up on Jan. 3, 2013, with a meeting with district officials to explain the transition in their process from on-site field work to review and report preparation. The auditors did not provide a definitive date for report release, nor any written report. 

The bond issue has been labeled Prop S; “with the S standing for students and security,” according to Board President Janet Strate. 

While RS for RS believes the safety and security of the students should always be first and foremost, it should not be contingent on the passage or failure of a vote at the ballot box; especially with the strained relationship between the district and their stakeholders. 

The taxpayers have been good to the district for years, and now have discovered there have been some questionable business practices all along. It is time to clean up and straighten up the district, rectify the relationship with the community, take the consequences, and only then can we move on. 

It was recently disclosed that the district has a surplus of $16 million in a designated Fund Balance. RS for RS believes a fair solution would be for the Board to designate these funds to take care of the most critical issues at this time. (*According to Rockwood Policy 3117, the Board of Education mandates that operating fund balances at the end of the fiscal year should equal 18 percent of the budgeted operating expenditures.)

RS for RS recently criticized a remark by Board Director Keith Kinder during a recent Board Meeting. "I am going to speculate that if anyone is against the bond issue they don't believe we need anything done at Eureka High School. The community has said these things are needed; now we have them on a ballot, so they should be in favor of them."

“I believe it is misleading to imply that anyone voting against the bond is punishing the kids. The truth is the students using those run-down facilities have been punished for years by the leadership in this district. These projects, with the exception of the security issues, have been neglected for YEARS.  Many non-essential projects have taken precedence over the health and safety of the students and now it is coming back to harm all involved. Remarks like that of Director Kinder are insulting to the intelligence of district stakeholders and is exactly why Rockwood is in the position it is with the community,” state Tyrrell in the release. 

Phil Gonzalez February 04, 2013 at 12:36 PM
And the St Louis Rams WANT AT LEAST $ 700,000,000 (SEVEN HUNDRED MILLION) from St. Louis County, City AND Missourians. This should BE STOPPED ALSO, BECAUSE it takes MONEY from the voters and gives it to BUSINESS OWNERS.
Teri Downs February 04, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Not every stakeholder in the district is in agreement with RS. It would be nice to not always have such jaded articles.
Mike K February 04, 2013 at 01:05 PM
@Teri: What did you think it was? Patch editors clearly stated it "was provided as a news release from RS for RS". And just like they will likely post the RSD explanation for prop S. If they already haven't from the link to RSD articles in this article. All 'news' is jaded (to use your term). It will always be a story told from the viewpoint of the teller. And you can certainly enlighten us as to information you feel was left out or not represented in the article. But you chose not to.
Mike K February 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Followup: The article links to the RSD "home page" on Patch. The articles are here: http://ballwin-ellisville.patch.com/topics/Rockwood+School+District
Rockwood 25 February 04, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Please only comment if discussing the subject at hand, Mr. Gonzalez. Thank you.
Rockwood 25 February 04, 2013 at 07:55 PM
RS for RS has a point. Many in the District feel trust has been violated. Those and others have voted against recent District bond issues. To place this on the ballot, without fixing the trust issues and with audit results pending, is premature and probably a further waste of District dollars. Is the District fearing the audit will make it even more unlikely the bond issue will be passed in the near future so they want to try again now?
Caffeinated February 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I think there's a tendency to dismiss RS for RS as a right-wing anti-tax group of teabaggers. Well, I'm as far from that description as is possible and I applaud their efforts. I'm a Rockwood parent and taxpayer who is pro-union, pro-NEA, and want a well funded Rockwood. A strong Rockwood School District is good for taxpayers, parents, and business. However, there is a justified lack of trust of the current Board and the Superintendent. RS for RS is providing a check and balance that the Board does not provide. Do I agree with them on anything politically? Probably not. I appreciate what they're doing in offering transparency and a voice to residents.
Eileen Tyrrell February 06, 2013 at 01:07 AM
@Caffeinated. We appreciate your comments and following our blogs. It is noteworthy to mention that we are not a political organization and are not affiliated with any political party or organization. Unlike the Rockwood Teacher's Union and a number of Rockwood Parent/Teacher Organizations, RS for RS does not support, endorse or financially support candidates or ballot measures. Our mission statement reads as follows: To provide a volunteer coalition that works for the Rockwood School District Stakeholders and supports the real issues that matter to them. To read more about Who We Are, please go to; http://rsdstakeholders.org/about/ Again, thank you for your comments. A good public discussions of issues facing our district is sorely needed. Respectfully, Eileen Tyrrell, Spokesperon Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions
Phil Gonzalez February 07, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Of course ALL TAX issues are related. Which school district do you think this $ 700,000,000 is going to come from? It is coming from St Louis County taxpayers. There is ONLY a limited amount of money available yet the state, counties, cities keep GIVING OUR MONEY to businesses. Who make makes up the difference? We St Louis County Taxpayers, that's who? You ever lobbied at Jefferson City? There are thousands of businesses with their greedy little hands out for tax subsidies, tax increment financing, tax credits THE LIST IS ENDLESS. You think graft and corruption in one school district is NOT COPIED by other school districts? The people who run school districts get paid by the taxpayers to attend seminars. At those seminars, the greedy, evil adminstators TEACH THEIR EVIL WAYS to other administrators and they bring those ideas back and put them into action.
Phil Gonzalez February 07, 2013 at 11:30 AM
does anyone remember the $350,000 that was paid in "consulting" fees by Rockwood School District for improving energy efficiency but Amerin UE does the SAME THING FOR FREE?
Phil Gonzalez February 07, 2013 at 11:33 AM
everyone wants their gov't and it's districts & agencies to run without deceit, fraud and theft. That is what is going on in Rockwood, Parkway and other school districts in Missouri. Did you know there is NO LAW against paying to much for a product? That is why a $35 hammer costs the gov't $ 350.00 Does this sound like what is going on in Rockwood or Parkway?

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