Mistrust of WW School Board lingers


Two reasons most mentioned for February’s Walla Walla High School bond defeat are mistrust of the School Board and its refusal to answer important questions.

The School Board needs to itemize school bond expenditures to alleviate many questions.

Twice before the February bond vote I asked our superintendent to publish how much of the $69 million Wa-Hi project the architects and their associates would get.

The superintendent’s refusal to publicly answer this question could cause one to conclude that schools, architects and their consultants have a sweetheart deal with each other. This seems to be a deal they don’t want to talk about, maybe because it’s costing taxpayers excessive millions.

Mistrust? I’m sure the school officials know the main cause for mistrust. If not, a short reminder!

It’s been called the “Edison Debacle.” Maybe a more applicable name might be the “Edison Deception.”

The Wa-Hi school bond defeated by taxpayers in 2006 included approximately $13.3 million for Edison School. A few months later an inflated bond, including state matching funds for approximately $22.6 million for Edison, was proposed and passed.

The excess millions were used elsewhere without voter approval, much of it on the bus depot that was rejected by taxpayers earlier.

When the sleight-of-hand trickery with inflated school bonds was exposed, it revealed this practice wasn’t new. It was used to a lesser degree on Sharpstein and other school bonds.

At least one of the present School Board members was in office during these school bond deceptions.

We’ve known for years maintenance was being shortchanged at Wa-Hi and other schools. It seems maintenance might have been purposely shortchanged on school buildings with the intent to use excess funds from inflated school bonds to do the maintenance jobs that should have been done with the approximate $9 million to $10 million annual maintenance and operations levies.

Thus far we haven’t heard one word of apology from the School Board members for using this deceptive bond-inflating practice to procure additional money to spend as they please. It seems they are only sorry they were caught. One board member said he would do it again.

After this practice was exposed, the School Board still seems unwilling to admit wrongdoing. Maybe this Board is unqualified to handle the $50 million annual budget of our School District.

Wrongful financial actions by Board members dictate we need annual independent audits.

Think about it!

Vern Filan

Walla Walla



fatherof5 says...

Mr. Filan writes of an "Edison Deception" and says "excess millions were spent without voter approval." Here is the text from the Edison bond that voters approved:

"... This proposition authorizes the district to replace Edison Elementary with a new elementary school **and pay for other capital improvements**; issue $19,500,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 13 years ..." (bold emphasis mine)

Clearly and unambiguously, the bond that voters approved authorized the district to pay for other capital improvements, which is what the Board did, thus following the will of the people. Those other capital improvements had not yet been identified, but the Board was given the authority to pay for them once they were determined. There was no deception here.

Posted 2 May 2013, 2:05 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Great letter Mr Filan - They have a tendency to operate in an opaque balloon. The bigger the balloon the more hot air that comes with it without any form of itemized expenditures as you have stated.

Posted 2 May 2013, 6 p.m. Suggest removal

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