EUREKA, Mo. – In the aftermath of last week’s scathing report by the State Auditor documenting mismanagement within the Rockwood School District – from more than $1.2 million in overpayments to a construction management firm to a lack of basic inventory control of credit cards and district property, including violations of state law – the public response has been swift and overwhelmingly negative.
Public trust in the Rockwood School District Superintendent and Board of Education continues to plummet, as do the chances of passage for the upcoming April bond issue “Proposition S”, while calls for their resignations are mounting.
Wildwood resident David A. Miller, a physician and parent of two students in the Rockwood School District spoke for many when he noted, “So now they’re asking for more money when the State Auditor’s report firmly demonstrates their inability to adequately manage the money they already have?”
“I am so disappointed that the district didn’t show more contrition. The facts are there in the auditor’s report. Rather than try to justify or make excuses, make it right and stop jerking the citizens around. How on earth can they expect us to vote yes on the bond issue in April when they have mismanaged the bond money from last year?” said Nancy Robinson, a resident and parent of students in Rockwood. “We are much smarter than that.”
Leading this call for immediate change is the citizens’ watchdog group, Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions. It was RS for RS’ concerns and research that prompted the state audit of Rockwood. RS for RS is calling for swift and decisive accountability for years of mismanagement by district officials. Trust will only improve once those responsible within the Rockwood School District are held accountable for their actions and poor judgment, with the changes beginning at the top.
In failing their fiduciary duty to the stakeholders of the district, RS for RS has requested the resignations of Rockwood Board of Education President Janet Strate and Board Directors Matt Doell, Stephen Banton, Keith Kinder, and Steve Smith. In addition, they have asked Superintendent Dr. Bruce Borchers to release the district from its contractual obligation of his employment contract which goes through June 30, 2016, and submit his resignation effective June 30, 2013. (RS for RS notes Board Directors Bill Brown and Sherri Rogers should retain their positions as they were only elected in April 2012 and voted against extending Dr. Borchers’ contract.)
Despite the following impressive professional backgrounds, often touting extensive management and financial experience, these members of the Board have clearly and publicly failed their stakeholders by not asking the tough questions or making needed tough decisions as fully documented in the Auditor’s report:
- Janet Strate – a certified public accountant with twenty years’ experience in the banking industry, current Board president who has served on the Board for nine years.
- Matt Doell – a licensed professional engineer with a master’s degree in business administration, vice president at Sachs Electric Company, current Board vice president, with extensive knowledge of construction contracts, bid processes, corporate management and labor relations.
- Stephen Banton – an attorney with the firm Quinn and Banton, former Missouri State Representative, former Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, has an MBA, who has served on the Board for fifteen years, and is a former Board president.
- Keith Kinder – a career educator with a doctoral degree in education and a master’s degree in mathematics, former assistant principal and principal for three of the district’s high schools with extensive knowledge of the district’s policies, procedures and processes.
- Steve Smith – a lawyer and former law school associate dean, who has served on the Board for a total of more than eight years, identified specifically by the State Auditor’s report to have a conflict of interest and violation of state law.
There must be accountability before the Rockwood community can move on. The Board of Education had the specifics of the audit results since February 12th. Prior to that, on January 3rd, district staff members had an exit interview with the field auditors and were made aware of the findings and what direction the audit report would take. The Board and district officials have had much more time to digest this than the community, and have failed to act.
Despite their knowledge of the audit findings nearly two weeks prior to the public release, the Board chose instead to extend Dr. Borchers’ contract and has yet to hold him or any staff accountable for their actions – including a Board member identified as violating state law.
“We’re grateful for the State Auditor’s office for hearing our concerns and determining there was a need for an audit. We will continue to tirelessly advocate for all stakeholders in Rockwood,” said Eileen Tyrrell, RS for RS spokesperson and co-founder. “While our concerns were verified, this is a sad day for Rockwood. We must now all come together and work towards rebuilding trust and improving fiscal responsibility and transparency – and that starts with the resignation of the Superintendent and several Board members.”
Long-time Wildwood residents MaryJane and Alan Millner summed up the community’s frustration and the need for change: “We have become unbearably disheartened with this school district’s School Board, Superintendent and the secretive, self-serving ways they operate. We are invested in this district financially, personally and emotionally and they have let us down in ways that are unimaginable! Do the right thing and resign, so that we can all move forward and not continue a prolonged, bitter, expensive, public fight.”
The mission of Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions is to educate, empower and inform ALL residents of the Rockwood School District about issues facing the district. While other groups such as the teacher’s union are represented at meetings where district policy is decided, there has not been, until now, any group which serves to advocate for taxpayers, parents, employees or students of the Rockwood School District.
RS for RS is a non-partisan group of taxpaying Rockwood citizens who recognize the recent negative events which have been given much media coverage are a result of a lack of transparency, fiscal irresponsibility and exclusion by district officials of parents and taxpayers in the decision-making process. Only sound fiscal policy will truly help the Rockwood School District in the long run.
To learn more about Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions, visit http://www.rsdstakeholders.org, our Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rockwood School District residents are encouraged to join us in safeguarding the future of our schools and the good reputation of the district. All names, email addresses and comments are kept strictly confidential.
Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions
Keeping the focus on fiscal responsibility, students and teachers
Eileen Tyrrell, Co-Founder/Spokesperson
Rene Artman, Jeanna Benny, Charlotte Fink, Jeana Shore