April 20, 2014

USD 231 spends thousands to review KORA

The USD 231 district administration has spent untold thousands of dollars – and many hours – writing, reviewing and rewriting its public records policy, racking up attorney bills and making presentations to the board regarding fees and public record access.
Yet, these proposed changes – like the ones hurriedly passed by the board last year – have not been vetted to the public either through committee or in any other form inviting patron comments or concerns.
We’ve never seen an administration devote so much time – and resources – to debating the Kansas Open Records Act. Most taxing entities respond to the public’s request for records in a fairly routine and equitable manner.
Recent debate surrounded whether good faith estimates should be given prior to supplying taxpayer-owned records, whether the district superintendent should have the discretion to determine who is charged, and whether prepayment should be required..
With all the hoopla regarding estimates and prepayment, an observer would think there must be thousands in unpaid KORA requests laying in district files. However, that’s not the case.
In fact, according to the administrative office staff, there has been only one unpaid $122 request – and the patron disputed that charge, saying – and showing emails to substantiate the claim – it was not what had been requested.
After much discussion last week, the policy was again sent back to the attorney for another rewrite. The attorney bills at $200-plus per hour, add that to administrative and support staff time, and we have to wonder at the district’s priorities.
Doesn’t the district administration have bigger fish to fry? Don’t they have students to educate? Curriculum to determine? Budgets to balance?
KORA is governed by state statute and many professional agencies routinely provide educational seminars at no charge. Rather than trying to micromanage,  the superintendent should be directed to contact the Kansas Association of School Boards, attorney general’s office or Sunshine Coalition to discuss public records and meetings. The public could be invited.
At a time when administration is saying they need more money for the students, and parents are complaining of increasing fees, the time and money spent debating this issue is a misappropriation of resources.
One hour of attorney time is about twice what the “unpaid” charge was.
Talk about making an issue out of a non-issue.

Comments

  1. Walter H. says:

    At the teacher negotiations the Superintendent will give the teachers a sad look and tell them he has “empty pockets” and cannot pay them. Meanwhile back at the USD 231 Ranch it seems they have very deep pockets to spend on their attorney to keep things secret behind the iron curtain. It would be interesting to see exactly how much we have paid the attorney but alas….that is public information that would probably not be given to the public.

    When does it stop? Less reading specialists, less math specialists, larger class sizes…this is what you get for your money.

    Perhaps it is time to think about asking someone to resign.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    I disagree with the Gardner News when they say most government entities don’t play games with the Kansas Open Records Act. The city of Gardner is just as bad or WORSE in my opinion. City of Gardner has also been found guilty of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act in the past by the Jo. Co. Dist. Attorney and he required the Council and Mayor and the administrative staff to attend training on the Act which is like giving them a pat on the hand – I have always said and will continue to say that the city of Gardner and Gilhaus and his school board know exactly what they are doing and not doing with respect to the Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act. And citizens would know that if they were doing their jobs by requesting Open Records pertinent information and keeping an eye on what they are doing with respect to the Open Meetings Act. If citizens were really doing their jobs, they too would be treated exactly like I have been time and time again when these government entities don’t want to answer questions about OUR VERY OWN GOVERNMENT and we pay their very own excellent salaries and outstanding benefits that are draining us dry more and more by the year and suffering the adverse affects from their cronyism governing.

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    You want to know how a Gilhaus dynasty is built? Well, here is an example. The following info is taken from Cheryl Harrison-Lee’s employment contact that was signed on March 4, 2013.

    1. Eff. March 4, 2013 her salary was to be $124,000. She could be eligible to a bonus of 5% which would increase her total income to $130,200. .

    2. Eff. March 4, 2014 her salary will be increased by 7% which would bring it up to $132,680. If she gets her 5% bonus she will be getting total income of $139,314.

    3. Eff. March 4, 2015 her salary will be increased by 6% which would bring it up to $140,641. If she gets her 5% bonus she will be getting total income of $147,673.

    4. Eff. March 4, 2016 her salary will be increased by 6% which would bring it up to $149,079. If she gets her 5% bonus she will be getting total income of $156,533.

    These increases and bonuses are subject to performance evaluations, however, I feel sure the politicians will give them to her.

    Retroactive to Jan. 15, 2013 she is getting a $500 a month car allowance with yearly increases of $150. So come 2016 she could be paid a $950 a month car allowance. She probably will be driving a Mercedes on her calls to the thieves (but she probably will still be using the city credit card to pay for her lunches – I guess she is so poor she can’t pay for her own lunches) – that or adding nice amounts to her savings accounts.

    Cheryl not only gets her KPERs retirement paid for her by the CITIZENS – she also gets another retirement program paid for her which was approved by the politicians. Free health care insurance for her and her family, life insurance, disability insurance, etc., etc.

    Then Cheryl gets 6 weeks vacation right off the top and the contract goes on and on with goodies for her brought to you by so-called representatives who are supposed to be working and governing for your interests. Give Cheryl 10 years here and she will be sitting pretty too like Gilhaus and just like she is now. Get a copy of that contract – all you have to do is fill out the Open Records form and sit back and see if they charge you for it and it shouldn’t be much and in my opinion the whole contract should be on the city’s web site for all citizens to review and no costs involved for them. Or the Gardner News should print it for their customers. .

    That is how Gilhaus built his dynasty thanks to HIS school boards over the years and how the Kansas legislators get a sweet, sweet KPERs retirement deal they voted for themselves and with so many politicians and bureaucrats – It would take months to list all of the government people you are taking care of in such grand style. And this happens due to the apathy and ignorance of the citizenry. And all of this does not even take into consideration all of the corporate welfare which involves BILLIONS of dollars. The middle class are being moved into poverty as we speak and I guess they don’t mind it since they continue to sit on their rearends sucking their thumbs as they watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or Duck Dynasty, etc., etc.

  4. Walter H. says:

    Oh, I have a copy of his contract and, in my opinion, it is a crime against the tax payers.

    I’m not sure what is the most disturbing;

    1. The fact that we will continue to make annual contributions to his 403(b) at 67% of the base salary of a beginning teacher for FIVE years after his termination. Yes, FIVE years.

    or

    2. The fact that his annual salary shall be increased by an amount equal to the cost of family health and dental insurance premiums for the District’s employees.

    Honorable mention goes to his $800.00 a month automobile allowance

    and

    The fact that it is written into his contract that his salary and benefits can be increased but never, under any circumstances decreased.

    What kind of a Board would approve something like this?

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    In my opinion the Gardner City Council would approve Gilhaus”s contract just like they did Cheryl Harrison-Lee’s which is just as decadent and that is because they are all taking care of each other slimy rearends and certainly the citizens, who have to bankroll all of the moral corruption, are never at the table. But the people have no one but themselves to blame because they continue to elect and re-elect these jokers into office so they may financially rape the very citizens who are supposed to be protected. Apathy and ignorance do have consequences.

    Yesterday I was watching an interview with Jay Leno who is about to retire. Leno said the experts say there is a connection between pot smokers and apathy. Well, it appears to me Gardner must have their fair share of pot smokers considering all the apathy I see and all the talk about widespread use/dealing of pot in our schools. Kids are evidently mimicking what they see at home or have poor expectations required of them at home in many instances. Irresponsible sex, drugs and alcohol usually create problems throughout a community.

    If you enable and support it, you will be living with the affects of it – whatever the “it” may be and many times they are ADVERSE affects.

  6. I have said before that the people on the school board need to fire that man. Most of them know better, and you who are commenting what about the Edgerton woman just got 10 percent increase? No wonder taxes are so high. These people are spoiled rotten. And I’ve never met a lawyer worth a tinkers damn.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    Lots of ways for cronyism government to adversely affect average citizens and oodles of reasons of why citizens should know what goes on with their government entities.

    I was just checking on the property on N. Moonlight/Madison where I hear a new Casey’s will be located. That parcel of land is presently owned by Jerry and Joyce Kauffman out of Glenwood Springs, Colo. They have been getting the good ole “farm appraisal” on that property which generates a total property tax bill for 2013 of $6.93 with our local schools getting $2.83 of that amount and the city of Gardner and its citizens getting $1.50. Maybe when the County Appraiser sent out a farm questionnaire to them around last Sept./Oct. they decided it was time for them to sell that property – it would be interesting to know how they completed that farm questionnaire or if they even did. Back in 2008 their tax bill was $14.91 with an assessment of $104.37 since they received a benefit district from the citizens of Gardner (why would the city give them a benefit district when they contribute so little to the community and the schools) and they were repaying that debt and which I am sure was an improvement to their property and yet by 2013 our tax revenue had been lowered to $6.93……….never in a million years would an average citizen get a sweet deal like this and they shouldn’t, in my opinion, since there is nothing right about it to me.

    In my opinion this type of corrupt government truly brings about much inequality and many, many adverse affects for average citizens and yet citizen apathy enables and supports all of the wrongdoing. Citizens have themselves to blame for much of the slime that goes on – that is my opinion.

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    I wanted to mention that the Kauffman parcel of land mentioned above is appraised at $160 for 2013 (was $170 for 2012). Do you think the Kauffmans will sell that 3.51 acres to Casey’s for $160??? I highly doubt it. Another example of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, especially when it comes to taxes and capital gain.

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