July 31, 2014

OUR VIEW: Why so secretive, USD 231?

Behind closed doors, a more-than $60 million budget is being decided by select staff of the Gardner Edgerton School District.
Unlike the city of Gardner, which hosts open, public workshops regarding the city’s approximately $10 million budget, or Johnson County, which has open meetings regarding its upcoming $815 million budget, USD 231’s budget is apparently being quietly determined by members of the Finance committee and the newly hired Finance Director, Jeremy McFadden. McFadden began work July 2.
Although most government entities are publicly involved in budget planning, a schedule of finance committee meetings was not available as of July 9. Technically, the meetings do not fall under the Kansas Open Meetings Act because the committee has been structured in a way to circumvent quorum requirements and are generally closed to the public.
Why?
We encourage Bill Gilhaus, superintendent, and school board members to promote transparency in the budget process, especially in light of the district’s recent bond rating reduction.
In March, USD 231 had the rating on its general obligation debt reduced from AA- to A+ due to the deterioration of the district’s cash reserves, and in 2011, Eric Hansen, former finance director, predicted a more than $570,000 cash shortfall, not including 2012 expenses or cost of the recent $72 million bond package.
With rumors swirling about the district’s finances, including alleged staff restructuring and teacher lay-offs, we don’t understand USD 231’s obsession with control and secrecy.
It’s the taxpayers’ money.
Gardner-Edgerton has one of the highest mill levies in the state; and that translates into high property taxes for patrons already suffering through the worst recession in memory.
Why not allow taxpayers to see the budget process?
The district’s only published budget dates include: presenting the proposed budget on Aug. 6, tentative budget publication date of Aug. 8, and a budget hearing on Aug. 20.
What about discussion leading up to the proposed budget?
Patrons have a right to be involved in the process.
We know it’s not always a pretty process – just view the Gardner City Council video of its most recent budget work session in which council members haggle it out.
We would much prefer to see the debate, to question it, post it to social media, or complaint/compliment it, than to have a bureaucratic door slammed in our face.
As always, our editorial page is open to school board members who wish to respond.

Comments

  1. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Mr. McFadden’s name was recently added to the School District’s administrative staff on the USD231 website. http://usd231.org/webUSD231/Forms/SubPage.aspx?menu=115_205_7

    If McFadden began work on July 2, I have to wonder if he is working pro bono. According to the terms of his employment contract, signed June 25, 2012, a copy of which I received today after an Open Records request, McFadden is scheduled to begin performing paid school services for 12 calendar months beginning August 1, 2012 at an annual salary of $101,035.

    The 37-year old McFadden comes to the Gardner Edgerton School District from Andale, Kansas, about 15 miles northwest of Wichita, where he served as Finance Director of the USD267 Renwick School District for the last two years. Student enrollment is 1,912 at USD267, which has two small high schools in neighboring towns, four K-8 elementary and one Pre-K schools. Renwick District schools employ a certified staff of126 and a classified staff of 93.

    Previously, McFadden was employed by two accounting firms from 2000 until 2010. He graduated from Andale High School in 1993 and Kansas State University in 1998.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    The Gardner City government is now ready for sainthood???? Give me a freaking break……them and the school district have the same management styles and have had for years. They will tell you only what they want you to hear/know and when and how. Are you not listening when Press has told the city of Edgerton and the city of Gardner and I am sure the County that the Council members and Commissioners should not micromanage. He even called in a dear ole Kutak Rock attorney in the last few months to tell the Council to stay out of the running of city business, keep their mouths shut and don’t talk about issues that the citizens should be able to talk to them about. The City Hall bunch and I am sure the School Dist. pretty much tell those council members and school board members to show up each week and they supply them with rubber stamps and tell them to follow the script they have written for them and the yoyos do that very thing week after week. And the people continue to support this crapola.

    These government entities are not talking to you because there are big money problems and they don’t want to be held accountable. And the people will let them get by with it just like they always do at every level of government and many citizens support and enable this kind of government. And most citizens certainly don’t take the time to actually be involved/educated/informed about their local governments and the important issues involved – they just go to Facebook and believe anything somebody (such as the Beasley Bunch) tells them. Look in the mirror for the proximate cause of most of your problems.

  3. awtherfrd says:

    Thank you Judith for all of your constructive solutions and advice.

  4. Judith Rogers says:

    You are more than welcome and I will be waiting with bated breath for your superior knowledge and constructive plans to help the citizens………but wait, the only thing the Beasley Bunch know how to do is submit smart ass remarks like they do on their Facebook page while they are wasting their employers’ time and money. Yeah, I am waiting patiently, just like I do with the worthless politicians and bureaucrats………..show me the money, lowlife……..

  5. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I have been told that committee meetings are open to the public, but not open to public comment. When I asked how the public is given advance notice of these meetings, I was told no public notice is provided or required, but if requested a meeting schedule could be provided and that meetings are typically scattered throughout the month with schedules, time demands and necessity of the meetings determining the schedule.

  6. awtherfrd says:

    I plan on getting as many Gardner citizens as I can together in a dialogue where we can discuss such issues as lack of transparency. Then by creating awareness of the issues hopefully the informed citizens will let their preferences be known through the ballot box.

    I am just a feeble-minded citizen of Gardner and my “lowlife” ideas probably won’t work as well just hating everyone and calling people insults whether they agree with you or not. None the less I will give my plan a shot as I really am not all that creative with my insults.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    And you continue to be a lowlife coward since you cannot even take ownership of your postings. Quite evident you are ashamed and embarrassed to do so. Gardner’s Finest………

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    Kellogg, can’t you get it through your brain they don’t care if they have a meeting or if you show up at a meeting or not and they certainly don’t care about your concerns, cares, ideas, requests, etc. Does that sound familiar??? It should if you have lived in Gardner for very long and paid attention as to how your city operates also – they might give you some lip service or a smile but that is all it is and through time you will learn the hard way that you need to be watching closely as to what their actions, inaction and voting records are and how our mill levy and debt and spending continue to not be beneficial to you as a citizen but I believe you are a renter and perhaps your rent has stayed level………now if you were a business entity or one of the big boys, then that is a whole different story – you would be well taken care of with the people picking up the tab.

  9. nonamers says:

    Why should anyone else “take ownership” of their comments, Judith? You never take ownership of yours. If you did, you would actually respond to what people are saying instead of attacking them because you can’t figure out who they are.

    You see, in the REAL world, it’s the truth that matters, not how quickly you jump to change the subject because you don’t have anything to contribute to the topic.

    Besides, the person you were insulting took the time to say who they were. Sorry if your knee-jerk insults kicked in before you could figure it out. They created a user account that’s tied to their identity. So they aren’t posting anonymously. They’re just safe from you. And your apparent inability to read people’s posts.

  10. Judith Rogers says:

    A coward is a coward and I don’t deal or spend my time with lowlifes who are only around to do what you do.

    This lack of communication with the school district reminds me of when Lehman and Drovetta appointed more rubber stampers to the Intermodal Review Committee and we had meeting after meeting where the citizens could not say ONE WORD and even when they clapped Lehman was there telling the crowd not to do that………..they didn’t want the people involved, ask questions, make comments, etc. They supposedly did that by having citizens submitting their questions and then they cherry picked which questions they would answer and certainly no discussion was allowed with the answers given. It was downhill from there on with the city stonewalling the people time and time again and presenting the lies like the “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Tax ‘Em” and then they turn around, as I knew they would, and were willing to give away 85% of your tax revenue to the Allen Group and even went so far as to deny the citizens’ request to vote on the matter. And what did that wonderful “democratic” setup get you……….it got you a community that will be the armpit of Johnson County, extensive pollution and resulting illness, trucks up the gut that will create all kinds of hazards and costs, rising crime, astronomical costs, lowered property values, zoning and codes that will be far from protecting you like Overland Park does not allow many storage lots becase they know they don’t bring in any tax revenue and create eyesores plus other hazards and what does Gardner do, they are more than ready to allow conditional permits.

    If you think your government entities in the state of Kansas are protecting you, the average citizen, supporting you, doing much of anything to help you, I would say you are delusional and if you support and enable all of this crud, then I have a real hard time with that.

  11. awtherfrd says:

    I am sorry, I assumed you knew who I was. My name is Aaron Weatherford, nice to meet you Judith.

  12. Judith Rogers says:

    I cannot say the same.

  13. nonamers says:

    A coward is someone who complains all the time and does nothing to actually do what she’s complaining about. A coward is someone who has to attack people who disagree with her because she can’t actually justify the arguments she makes or the godless, hate she spills on everyone. A coward is someone who has to hide behind threats of personal recriminations. That’s you all over, Judith.

    Aaron…it was obvious that she couldn’t figure out who you were. I was trying not to draw too much attention to it since she missed the abbreviated nickname. ;) What’s funny is that she whines so often about anonymous posters, then complains even more when people give her what she’s always asking for. She’s a hypocrite, Aaron. So that means she’ll try to dig up dirt on you later, now that you had to tell her your name.

  14. Judith Rogers says:

    If you only knew what it was like………….this is how I feel when I have to deal with the City of Gardner and/or USD 231 School Dist………..except the steel spike pain in the feet, I feel a huge pain in the rear………..just like they want it so you won’t ask any questions and/or don’t communicate your concerns, they pretty much just want you to pay your taxes and keep your mouth shut, similiar to the Nonamers, etc.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2012/07/11/3701517/alzheimers-simulation-is-a-hard.html

  15. Judith Rogers says:

    The hidey hole type of management involving stonewalling, back room wheeling and dealing, silence and coverups, etc. are held accountable at some point of time. I hope all of the local politicians and bureaucrats fully understand there are consequences for their words, actions, inaction and voting records. The finest of gold can be found tarnished in broad daylight as Penn State and citizens are finding out across the land.

    http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/12/12699159-report-finds-penn-state-president-paterno-concealed-facts-about-sandusky-sex-abuse?lite

  16. Judith Rogers says:

    Lots goes on that is immoral and corrupt – like our lovely “farm” appraisals but the politicians and bureaucrats don’t do a damn thing about it………..the thieves know exactly what they need to do to keep it that way too………..make those political donations……….

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48158693/ns/business-us_business/

  17. nonamers says:

    Judith, all kidding and taunting aside, you really ought to consider starting your own website or getting a blogger page. That way, instead of having to rely on someone else’s forum to post all the things you find and feel like you’d like the world to know, you can have them all together in one place for people to read. THEN, you could come to the forum pages and link your blogsite so that people can get drawn in and read everything together, as part of the big picture you want to paint. So you’d still be as active on these forums, but maybe you wouldn’t have to try so hard to push so many unrelated idea in the various comment sections you frequent: you could even organize the related thoughts together so they’d make more consistent a message and would see less random.

    Blogsites like blogger.com are super-easy to set up and use. And free, too.

    I’m really not trying to be clever or sneaky here. It’s just that you post so often and have so much to say…why not give yourself a central location to keep things?

  18. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    The USD 231 Board of Education Finance Committee will meet Monday July 30th at 3:45 PM in Board Room C at the District Office Building to discuss the 2012-2013 budget, The committee meeting is open to the public, but comments are not permitted. District Offices are located at 231 E. Madison Street, Gardner, KS.

    As mentioned in the editorial above, the next regular monthly BOE meeting will be on August 6, 2012, during which the 2012-2013 District Budget will be presented to board members prior to publication. The budget will be published in The Gardner News two days later on Aug. 8, followed by a public hearing on Aug. 20, 2012.

  19. Judith Rogers says:

    Just like the city of Gardner……….comments not permitted but they will let you in the doors……how big of them. The city of Gardner also will not give citizens a peek at the 2013 PROPOSED budget just like Gardner Energy won’t either……………TRUST ME – you have no need to know – your only responsibility is to keep paying your taxes which business entities certainly don’t want to do but they sure love getting their fire and police protection, roads, sewers, water, educated workers, etc., etc. that the citizens pay for. They want you to bankroll them for all of their needs but they sure don’t like paying their freaking taxes and the lousy politicians and bureaucrats enable and support them, even with their slimy “farm” appraisals and assessments.

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