A Response to the February Board Response, part 2

If you are starting here, please read part 1 first.

The Tennis Courts

The op-ed written by Timdal, Olson and Opperman stated: There is no documentation of meetings regarding the status change on the privately –funded tennis court project. The school board approved the project at the October 10, 2016 meeting and work began.

The school board stated in their February 13th response, that the statement above is inaccurate, because the project wasn’t approved on October 10, 2016. Actually, the tennis project was approved conditionally at the December 2015 school board meeting. The board also stated that the conditional approval was dependent on the Tennis Association signing the Memorandum of Understanding that was drafted and that they never signed it. The board brings up that it was discovered that the memorandum was never reviewed by the lawyer. It is implied in the boards response that they discovered that the lawyer hadn’t reviewed it after October 1, 2016.

Here are my questions for the school board:

  1. What date was the Memorandum of Understanding reviewed by the lawyer?
  2. What date was the Memorandum of Understanding delivered to the Tennis Association to sign? Were they given a deadline to sign by? Please provide evidence that shows the document was received by the Tennis Association with a deadline.
  3. Since the school board asked the Tennis Association to provide an update by October 1, 2016 and the board says that the Tennis Association did not comply with the request, why did the school board approve the Tennis Association to level the dirt where the tennis courts were planned to go on October 16, 2016, if they knew that the tennis courts would not be going there?
  4. If it is decided that the tennis courts will be moved to a different location, will the district reimburse the Tennis Association for the amount they spent to level the land?

The school board continues: Due to the school board’s desire to make an accommodation for the tennis courts, despite not hearing from the Tennis Court Association for months, we asked the Association to attend the January 9, 2017 meeting to discuss the matter in open session. The school board explained that we are still interested in moving forward with the project, but not on the piece of property formerly being considered due to drainage, parking, recreational, and curriculum concerns.

Here are my questions for the school board:

  1. The Tennis Court Association had a response regarding the condition of the soil at the _ board meeting. Why are you using this as your reason for denying the tennis courts on this piece of property?
  2. Due to the location, can the district realistically put parking in this area? If so, how many spots would be gained?
  3. What are the recreational and curriculum concerns that prohibit the tennis courts from being placed in the designated area?

I will look forward to hearing the responses to these questions from the school board, as well as Tennis Court Association representative Keith Williams.

Coaching Concerns

The op-ed stated: The opening for the head track coach position was announced last fall. The application was extended to January 20th at the Jan. 9th board meeting. A school board member resigned on January 26th so he could apply for the position, and the deadline was extended to January 27th. At a special board meeting on January 30th, the vice president of the board stated that the school board would be involved in the interview process for the track coach. The school district policy says the interviewing process is the responsibility of the school principal and the athletic director. To avoid conflict of interest because one of the applicants is a former school board member, the board should not participate in the interview process.

 All that was being asked here was that the board recuse themselves from the interviewing process. I have scoured through board minutes and have seen the recommendations they receive from the principal and athletic director for other coaching hires (see board agenda from February 8, 2016 as an example—this is actually the recommendations for the Track Coaching staff for the spring 2016 track season).

I understand that legally there are no directives that would preclude the board from participating and the letter did not state that they would be participating illegally — it was recommended that the board not participate in the interview process in order to avoid a conflict of interest that was perceived by the community. The board also could have asked the other two sitting district administrators to be a part of the interview process. I am confident that if the board would have let the principal and athletic director interview and provide unbiased recommendations, than the community would not have had a problem with their decision. As it now stands, the community has accepted the coaching hires with no further comment.

The Final Word

The op-ed stated: As constituents, we are responsible to hold the School Board accountable.

 The school boards response to this was that they absolutely agree. They follow up with the names of the people who wrote the letter and declare that these people “attempting to hold the School Board accountable based on misinformation only serves to destroy the district and the community they claim to support.”

How is a community asking questions and investigating destroying the district and the community?

This document is a detailed explanation that is taken from school board meeting agendas, minutes, and newspaper accounts of meetings, and the lawyer invoices provided by the district. The goal is to fill in the gaps that a 500 word letter cannot contain. I do not believe based on what is presented here that any of the authors misspoke, they only did not have the available space to share their full argument.

 

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One thought on “A Response to the February Board Response, part 2”

  1. I cannot understand why the School Board will not let the tennis court project continue to be built in the original location that was approved by the School Board and has been excavated. It sounds like there is one School Board member that does not want the tennis court project to continue and even when he has been out voted on the subject, he continues to try and have it cancelled or moved. Why don’t you ask the community and tax payers what they want instead of this School Board (that has been challenged by the community for the way they have conducted themselves). Tennis Courts will be a benefit to the community, just as the aquatic center was. We want Iola to be a place people like to visit and has certain amenities which attract people to our area. Let the people (tax payers and community members) vote on this project.

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