Can School Board regain trust without apology?

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The U-B survey seems to indicate there isn’t a pubic willingness to pass additional school bonds.

Let’s cut the money outlay for architects and consultants immediately and wisely spend the $50 million annual budget on education, adequate maintenance and facility updates.

Distrust of the Walla Walla School Board seems to be the main reason given for the February Wa-Hi bond defeat.

If a public business collects investment money from the public for a specific purpose and instead uses it for an unrelated purpose without approval from the investors, the business would likely be criminally charged with fraud.

Our school boards have engaged in similar practices more than once.

Examples: The current Wa-Hi also caused School Board distrust in the beginning. The voters voted to remodel the old Park Street Wa-Hi. After the bond passage, the School Board arbitrarily decided to use the funds intended to remodel Wa-Hi and instead built a new high school at the current Wa-Hi site.

The Wa-Hi remodel bond wasn’t enough money to build a new Wa-Hi but the School Board started construction anyway. The Board later tried to pass another bond to cover the additional cost. That bond request was denied.

When money ran out, construction stopped. Additional construction expenses caused underdevelopment on needed buildings, construction delays and funding shortfalls for years.

Did our School Board learn from that history? Evidently not!

Distrust, this time, came from the “Edison deception” (aka the “Edison debacle”).

It looks like the School Board inflated the Edison School bond (including the state matching dollars) by approximately $5 million.

It used that excess $5 million to build the new bus garage without voter approval.

The problem: Voters rejected that same bus garage just a few months earlier. Public scrutiny exposed this School Board wrongdoing. Result: The February Wa-Hi bond was rejected.

These examples show arrogant superintendents and school boards disregarding and overriding the will of the voters.

School boards make decisions. Should they do as they please or should they do the will of the taxpayers? Should they yield to temptation or should they operate with integrity? In these cases, voter disregard and temptation won.

What has the School Board done to regain public trust? As of now, nothing!

Can the School Board regain public trust if there is no apology for the Edison fiasco and no acknowledgment from the School Board of its wrongful actions?

Probably not!

Vern Filan

Walla Walla

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Comments

fatherof5 says...

I did an internet search and found the minutes from the 2010 meeting where the Board received feedback as to whether or not to reinvest the excess Edison funds or to give the money back. (Here is [the link][1].) All of the public comments made to the Board strongly encouraged the Board to reinvest the money in other needs. Apparently, none of the opponents bothered to speak.

A week earlier, then-Superintendent Carter had given [this explanation][2] for his recommendation that the funds be used in accordance with the bond text, which specified that excess funds could be used for other facilities projects.

I understand that reasonable people could disagree as to whether or not the money should have been spent, but the text of the bond clearly authorized it, and there was a process for public comment. The people I have spoken to who now work in those buildings where the communications systems were updated or where the transportation building was built are all pretty effusive when they explain what an important difference those improvements have made...especially the cost savings and efficiencies of having the bus barn and in-house mechanics who, I understand, also work on vehicles from other districts.

To conclude, (1) the 60%+ voter-approved bond text was honored, (2) a public comment process was followed, and (3) the resulting benefits to the district were significant and long-lasting. Yet, the above letter to the editor questions the integrity of district officials, claiming that they are "arrogant" and their actions were "wrongful." It calls the Edison bond a fiasco. These accusations are without merit.

[1]: http://www.wwps.org/leadership/pdfs/m...
[2]: http://www.wwps.org/news/newsflash_Re...

Posted 1 August 2013, 3:44 p.m. Suggest removal

Use.Wisdom says...

Bravo Fatherof5! This rumor of wrong doing on the part of the board has got to stop.

Posted 31 March 2014, 4:32 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Thanks, Use.Wisdom, but it was odd to scroll down and see my post from 8 months ago. I think this letter is also old. Hmmm... I am glad to see my research come up again, though, because the "Edison Debacle" doesn't seem to go away....at least not for Vern. :)

Posted 31 March 2014, 5:37 p.m. Suggest removal

wwguy7 says...

Thanks for doing your research. I don't think Vern understands that the school board and the Superintendent are different. It's like sports analogies that talk about stats from 25 years ago. The team is completely different, and those stats are no longer relevant. I feel that a majority of Vern's commentary falls into this category.

Posted 1 April 2014, 10:09 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

.

Posted 31 March 2014, 6:20 p.m. Suggest removal

mspinks says...

For whatever reason....... old letters are being posted online. Check the date for this one.

Posted 31 March 2014, 8:28 p.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Yes, it came with my 8 month old comment attached. Odd. Have you seen others like this?

Posted 31 March 2014, 10:44 p.m. Suggest removal

alasdairstewart says...

Greetings,
It appears a few of the older letters have gotten comments in the past couple of days that have led the programming behind our site to move them up in the "most commented" section. Sorry for any confusion!
- Alasdair Stewart

Posted 1 April 2014, 3:25 p.m. Suggest removal

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