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.