Dist. 861 administrators play dumb


by Frances Edstrom

What was your cell phone bill last month? How much did you pay in child care last year? If you are the bill-payer in your household, you undoubtedly know the answers to those and a myriad of other questions about your finances.

Doesn't it make sense, then, that the Fiscal Affairs Director of Dist. 861 should have his budget numbers at hand? Especially so at a meeting of the school board at which the members are charged with the task of cutting that budget in order to balance the district's books?

Well, at Thursday's school board meeting, no one in the administration, much less the Fiscal Affairs Director, could answer several important questions that board members had about the budget.

Outgoing board member Steve Kranz finally said, "It's obvious to me that we can't make this decision because we don't have the information we need in order to make the decision, which I find frustrating." An understatement, I'm sure.

Administration couldn't answer questions about cell phone bills for the maintenance department, which in one piece of information distributed by the administration is noted to have a $236,000 "communication" budget (surely this is an error!).

Administration couldn't answer questions about how much is paid to substitute teachers, and in what circumstances they were hired.

Administration couldn't answer questions posed to them about the Capital Fund.

And for several days questions from board members about "extra time costs" for teachers who, for instance, would at the high school teach four periods instead of three, has gone unanswered, as have questions about building costs for nights and vacations.

Yes, the superintendent is leaving at the end of the school year. But he leaves behind a group of administrators who seem unwilling or unable to do their jobs and communicate the necessary information to the school board from their departments or schools.

Unless there is change in more than one position in Dist. 861, whether it be in personnel or attitude, this district will be in constant turmoil, and we and our kids will be the ones who suffer.


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