Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
More than $61,000 paid to J.R. Electric – a company linked to James Repshire, board member – is disclosed on the USD 231 audit. The audit also indicates Repshire was not involved in the bidding process, but there is no reference as to whether Repshire abstained from voting at any time there was a potential conflict of interest.
Repshire also did not update his statement of substantial interest indicating he had changed employment to another company that also does business with USD 231.  An e-mail response from Repshire – printed in its entirety below – indicated he did not have time to respond to questions asked by The Gardner News.
A recent review of USD 231 financial audits for school year ending June, 30, 2008 through and including school year ending June 30, 2013, raises questions about “conflict of interest” as it might pertain to school board members, both past and present.
Of particular interest are the Related Party Transactions disclosed in the Notes to the Financial Statements contained in each audit.
Note 11 in Related Party Transactions discloses that in the school years ending June 30, 2008, June 30, 2009; and June 30, 2010; the company J.R. Electric, co-owned by board member Repshire, received payment for services provided to USD 231.  The three-year total paid to Repshire’s company was $61,779.  The report indicates that Repshire was not involved with the bidding of these services due to potential conflict of interest.
Note 11 does not address whether Repshire voted on any decisions regarding services provided by his company, J. R. Electric.
Note 11 states that in the school years ending June 30, 2011, June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013 the company City Electric Supply was paid for services provided to USD 231.  The three-year total paid to this company was $17,682.  Repshire was identified as a sales person for City Electric Supply.  The report indicates that Repshire was not involved with the bidding of these services due to potential conflict of interest.
There is no information on whether Repshire voted decisions regarding services sold to the school district by a company who employed him.
The Gardner News sent an email to Repshire on March 8 asking whether Repshire was the City Electric Supply sales person of record for services to USD 231.  The email also asked:
• Did he receive any compensation from City Electric Supply as a result of services sold to USD 231?
•  If not, was it necessary for board members to approve purchases with City Electric Supply and who was the point of contact between USD 231 and the electric supply company?
USD 231 board policy, in effect through April 2013, required board members who may have been in a position of conflict of interest to refrain from using their board position for personal or partisan gain.
An updated board member policy, adopted April 15, 2013, does not specifically address conflict of interest for personal gain by a board member.
Elected officials are required to file a Statement of Substantial Interest for Local Office with the Johnson County Election Office. Repshire filed statements on Feb. 6, 2007 and another on Jan. 18, 2011, both election years. The Government Ethics Commission requires candidates and appointed officials for local office to file new forms if there are changes in their individual substantial interests. Changes might occur in areas such as identification, ownership interests, receipt of compensation, officer or director of an organization/business or receipt of fees and commissions.
A detailed email sent to Repshire outlining the findings on the audits and asking the questions posed in this article was sent late afternoon, March 9.
Repshire’s response was received at 8:30 a.m. on March 10 and reads as follows:   “As you are aware, school board members are not paid for the position of being on the board, therefore most of us have full time jobs to support our homes and families financial needs.   Because I am one of those board members with a full time job and because of the late request for this information, I will not be able to meet your deadline.  Feel free to use whatever information you were provided at the election office.”