Monday, December 31, 2012

Fox C-6 School Board Code of Ethics from Board Policy 0340

The Fox C-6 School Board Code of Ethics below is pulled directly from the latest copy of the "completely overhauled" copy of the Fox C-6 School Board policies.  The school board is still working on updating and approving this new version of the policies after originally posting them to the district website on April 17, 2012.  The school board met at 6:15PM in the months of November and December 2012 to spend time reviewing and discussing changes and updates to the board polices.  What I find sad is the fact that many of the school board policies have been on the books since November 1997 and they STILL contain numerous typographical and grammatical errors.  In my opinion, it simply demonstrates to me that our school board members have never read the policies and regulations that they are charged with developing and upholding.

Once you read many of our school board policies, I think you will find, at least in my opinion, that our school board violates their own policies quite often at least if they were to follow them as they are "supposed" to be written (ignoring typographical and grammatical errors).

But, to get you started here is the policy that blatantly stood out to me.  It is Policy 0340 covering the School Board Organization and Code of Ethics.  The text was copied directly from the March 2012 updated documents which you can find still on the district website for the Public to download.  In an email response I received from Dianne Brown-Critchlow, I was told that she was not going to post them on the website for the public as she said she would at the March 2012 board meeting.  But, after I emailed her a copy of a transcript of her exact words from the March 2012 school board meeting that I audio recorded, she changed her mind and emailed me a copy and posted them on the website for the public to review.

I encourage you to read the School Board Code of Ethics below very carefully.  I have copied the text verbatim from the board policies.  I highlighted in yellow typographical or grammatical errors.  This policy has very few mistakes compared to others.  I also wanted to point out some of my areas of concern that I have highlighted in green.  The green highlighted text contains important statements in the Code of Ethics that I feel that our school board has not been following for the last several years.

This policy and many others were adopted directly from the Missouri School Board Association documentation. as noted in the policy itself below.  You can go and find other school district policies online and compare their text to the text we have at Fox.

Fox C-6's school board policies are adopted from Thomas Mickes' Missouri Consultants for Education, LLC company.  Mr. Mickes is the senior partner of the school district's current law firm of Mickes Goldman O'Toole.  Missouri Consultants for Education, LLC creates and provides a service of providing school board policies to school districts across the state of Missouri.  This service costs $1500 for NON-MUSIC members for initial adoption and then $500 annually for updates.

The Missouri United School Insurance Council (MUSIC) is an insurance group that provides coverage to school districts across the state of Missouri.  Fox is currently not a member of MUSIC but is covered by another insurance group.  The Missouri School Board Association has their own version of school board policies that they also provide as a service to school districts across the state and both entities update these policies annually and throughout the year as laws in our state change.

School Board Organization
Code of Ethics

The School District Board of Education accepts the code of ethics adopted by the Missouri School Board’s Association Delegate Assembly, as modified herein:

We, the members of the Missouri School Board Associations, accept these truths:
1.  That the basic function of public education in the United State is to provide all children with an effective opportunity to learn the facts, skills, and thinking patterns needed to prepare them for a fully satisfying and productive life.

2.  That it is essential for the development of a democratic citizenry and the maintenance of our national ideals that acceptable educational opportunities for all children be available on an equal basis.

3.  That the ideals and motives of the school Board members influence the quality of education in the schools.

As a member of the school Board, I shall:

1.  Abide by laws of the Sate of Missouri.

2.  Attempts, when possible, to make use of applicable laws or regulations that will improve the quality of our schools.

3.  Accept the responsibility of carrying out locally the statewide program of making education opportunity available for each child.

4.  Attempt to maintain the effectiveness of the local school system as it relates to the effectiveness of the state educational program.

5.  Work at all times to further local control of education.

As member of the school Board, I shall:

1.  Endeavor to understand the present and future educational needs of the community.

2.  Maintain the public trust through full and open communication.

3.  Insist that school funds be spent prudently and effectively to provide maximum educational benefits.

4.  Avoid domination by cliques and other partisan or self-seeking groups.

5.  Recognize that the public schools are agencies of the state for betterment of the entire community.

6.  Encourage citizens to participate through channels in shaping the purposes and policies of the local school system.

As a member of the school Board, I shall:

1.  Accept my policy-making responsibilities and require the Superintendent to administer the school in accordance with those policies.

2.  Delegate to the Superintendent of schools and other school employees authority in keeping with their responsibilities.

3.  Recognize that all lines of administrative responsibility to and from the employed personnel should extend to the Board of Education through the office of the Superintendent.

4.  Demand that the schools be operated by the best trained technical and professional personnel it is possible to procure.

5.  Employ only such qualified employees as are properly recommended by the Superintendent of schools.

6.  Involve members of the staff in planning proposed policies through proper channels.

7.  Insist that the Superintendent be responsible for keeping the Board properly informed on school matters at all times.

8.  Refer all complaints to the proper administrative officer.

9.  Notify the Superintendent in writing of any personal criticism that is used in an adverse evaluation of an employee.

10.  Encourage and promote the professional growth of teachers so that they may better perform their unique function.

As a member of the school Board, I shall:

1.  Contribute to and take an active part in Board discussions and avoid abstaining from Board votes unless abstention is required by law.

2.  Respect the rights of others to advance and defend their opinions on an issued under consideration.

3.  Make my decisions only after judicious consideration of the evidence and viewpoints of competent and/or interested individuals.

4.  Accept and abide by all legally approved decisions of the Board, regardless of my previous opinions.

5.  Respect the confidential business of the Board and refrain from discussing such business outside of Board meetings.

6.  Recognize that official action is an expression of the membership of the Board, and that initial announcement of such action will come from the president of the Board.

As a member of the school Board, I shall:

1.  Refuse to enter into unprincipled bidding with other school Boards for the services of teachers or other employees.

2.  Employ no teacher or other person who is under contract to another school Board until that person has been released by the contracting Board.

3.  Give to an inquiring Board the kind of appraisal of a teacher or other person seeking employment I would expect to receive from the Board if I were making inquiry.

Furthermore, I shall:

a.  Direct all recommendations of teachers and other employees only to those making inquiry.

b.  Withhold recommendation of a teacher or other employee until pertinent facts that may influence the recommendation are known.

c.  Encourage an interchange of thought with other boards.

d.  Remember that the education of the children in the school district of another board is as important to the board as the education of the children in this District is to this School Board.


Adopted: 11/97
Consolidated School District No. 6 (Fox)

Fox C-6 Central Office Remodel Was Not In Original Bond Issue Budget

$100,000 Spent On Central Office Remodel Was Not Listed On Bond Issue Budget
The roughly $100,000 being spent on remodeling the Fox C-6 Central Office building that was announced in October 2012 was not in the original August 7, 2012 Bond Issue budget posted on the on the district website for the public.  But, you would not know that unless you had downloaded a copy of the budget during the short amount time that it was available on the district website.  The document was promptly removed from the website once the Bond Issue passed and the district thanked the community.  I emailed district officials and asked that it be placed back on the district website but never received a response, and it was never re-posted.  However, you can download a copy of both the original document supplied to me by the district as well as a more readable version of the document I created using a spreadsheet right here:

Original Copy of the August 7, 2012 Fox C-6 Bond Issue Budget Document Supplied by District (PDF)

A More Readable Version of the August 7, 2012 Fox C-6 Bond Issue Budget (PDF)

Bond Issue Budget Not Originally Posted On District Website
Originally, the Bond Issue budget was not posted on the district website for the public to review.  The only documents posted on the district website regarding the bond issue was the appeal letters from the superintendent and the Fox C-6 school board asking for your support because it was for the kids.  If the district wanted the $18.5 million dollars from the public, why didn't they want the public to know the details as to how their money was going to be spent?  More of a concern was the fact that I could not find a copy of the budget in any of the board meeting packets for the prior year that are supplied to the school board members before each board meeting for them to review.

I emailed our board and board secretary for a copy of the Bond Issue budget and also asked them to post the budget on the district website prior to the Bond Issue election.  The budget did get posted to the district website prior to the election.  However, it wasn't posted until July 22, 2012 which was only a few weeks before the election.  In my email to district officials, I asked why the budget had never been supplied to the public for review and also why it never showed up in the school board meeting packets that I had received from the district.  I did not receive an answer to either question but I did receive a copy of the budget.  I found it alarming that the school board approved the $18.5 million bond issue amount without having the budget document provided to them in their board meeting packets detailing how the money was going to be spent.  There was an April 10, 2012 Special Meeting/Workshop regarding a list of proposed capital projects that may have included a copy of the budgeted list of items.  But, the budget list of items was never posted on the district website prior to my request. The original PDF copy of the budget supplied by the school district had a PDF CREATED DATE of April 12, 2012.

Bond Issue Budget Document Removed From Website
Once the bond issue passed and our superintendent posted her thank you message to the community, the Bond Issue budget document was removed from the district website.  I emailed district officials and asked that the budget be re-posted on the website.  I never received a response and the document was never restored to the website.

Without the budget document, you have no way of holding the district accountable for their Bond Issue spending.  I suggest you call and speak with your board members and ask them why they removed the budget information from the district website.  As taxpayers, you have the right to know how and where your taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Bond Issue Numbers Look Really Small
If you print the original document supplied by the school district on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper you will find that the amounts of money budgeted by the district "look really small"!!  In fact, when I showed the budget to my father, he told me that he couldn't read the numbers because they were so small.  He hadn't seen a copy of the budget for the bond issue prior to my giving him a copy.  My search for the budget started after my father told me that the Fox High School athletic director made a presentation to the Arnold Rotary Club about upgrading the athletic field but he didn't know how much it would cost for those upgrades when he was asked at the meeting.

You can find my original post as to why I suggested that you vote NO on the August 7, 2012 Bond Issue.  Prior to the August 7, 2012 bond issue election, several parents told me that they would be voting NO on the bond issue because they thought that spending roughly $3.5 million dollars to upgrade our football fields when there aren't enough textbooks to go around for all the kids in the middle school.  In my opinion, I believe that if the voters of our community were more informed by the school district as to how the bond issue money was going to be spent and were knowledgeable about the other issues going on within the Fox C-6 School District, that the bond issue would not have passed.  I know a lot of taxpaying voters were not too happy to learn after the election how much money was being spent to put artificial turf on our football fields!

School district parents regarding textbook shortages prompted me to ask some of our school board members and school administrators about the textbook shortage after the December 2012 school board meeting.  You can find a response from district officials regarding the textbook shortage in my other post here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fox C-6 Public Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments

The Fox C-6 school board and administration don't seem to be as transparent as other school districts in the area.  This lack of transparency has allowed them to get by with some fairly unethical behavior in their hiring practices and the way they are spending our taxpayer dollars. The taxpayers of the community has every right to access the board packet documents from the district website for FREE.  However, after repeated requests, our school board has never replied as to why they will not post these documents on the district website.  So, please contact your board members and ask them why they won't post the documents.  You should also make a Sunshine Request for the documents yourself just to see if you get a different story than what I am given.  It's fun to compare notes!

I did receive a response once from our superintendent as to why the district can't post the documents to the district website.  She informed me that we don't have a full time person maintaing the district website like other school districts do such as Wentzville.  She said she called Wentzville and they told her that they had two full time people maintaining their website.  Rather than put our money into the website, she told me that, "We put our [Fox's] money into the classroom."

So, was she being truthful about not having a full time person to maintain our website?

After I finally obtained copies of the board meeting minutes with the board packets, I discovered that Fox has had a person employed full time as a web designer for more than 7 years.  Perhaps our superintendent simply forgot that the district had a full time web designer and her statements "weren't an intentional lie".  What do you think?

Statements that are proven to be false through documentation cause distrust.  Once that trust is broken, it is very difficult to restore!

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either."

- Albert Einstein.

So, how does the Character Trait of Honesty show up on the district letterhead?

I believe that the Honesty trait is severely lacking in the answers being provided by our superintendent(s) lately and I find it very troubling that the leaders of our schools are not always honest with the public.  Actions and facts speak much louder than words.

So, why do you think the district wants to charge the public to obtain public records that once were FREE?  I don't think that it does much for their reputation in terms of transparency in government.  What do you think?

Now you get to do a little investigative work.  Study the CREATED DATE of the board meeting packets below and see if you see a pattern.  I made my request for the board packets in digital form on March 30, 2012.  As you can see below, the board packet documents I received starting with the August 30, 2011 board meeting had a CREATED DATE of March 30, 2012.  The May and June 2011 board packets weren't sent in my first request and were missed and some were sent after the holiday break.  But, notice the pattern of the CREATED DATE for the board packets prior to May 2011 dating back to April 2010.  It appears that the board packets WERE created as PDF documents on a regular bases in the past and that is why I am confused as to why I am being asked to pay for work that used to be done on a regular basis prior to my request.  Also, I was told that the board packets didn't exist in PDF format prior to April 2010.  But, the school district published board minutes in PDF format as far back as 2002.  Doesn't that seem a little strange?

So, how do you find the CREATED DATE in a PDF document?

Open the PDF document with Adobe Reader and then select Properties from the File menu.  The Properties from will display the CREATED and MODIFIED date for the document.  I use a FREE program called PDF-XChange Viewer to perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of the scanned board packets. PDF-XChange Viewer can overlay an invisible text layer that can then be used to search for text strings within the document.  It is not perfect but works very well.  It is certainly faster than reading the entire document when you know what you are looking for.  Since the documents aren't always the best scan quality you might have to use substring searches in order to find what you are looking for.

Looking for Legal Fees or Other Expenses
So, you might be interested in finding out how much our school district spends in legal fees or maintenance fees.  When you are viewing the PDF document in a PDF viewer, you can search for the word "legal".  Or you can search for the word "Mickes" or "Goldman" as they are names from the law firm that represent the school district.  Just remember that OCR is not perfect and may overlook some of the words above.  So, you may have to page through the check ledgers manually which are in alphabetic order by vendor name just to be sure you didn't miss something.

I like pointing out Board Policy 0215 as a reminder for our school administrators and board members just in case they forgot what it says.

From School Board Policy 0215
The district recognizes the home as the primary source of moral, ethical, and religious instruction; the role of the school is to support the family by upholding the highest example of morality, ethics, and integrity. [emphasis added]  A policy on character development is for the benefit of all students and is written with respect and sensitivity to the diversity of religions, cultures, creeds and beliefs.

Board Meeting Packets By Year

November 20, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 12/20/2012  1:36:56 PM

October 16, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 12/20/2012  1:50:24 PM

September 18, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 09/24/2012  1:07:50 PM

August 28, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments 
Created: 09/11/2012  3:57:19 PM

June 26, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 07/26/2012  2:57:29 PM

May 15, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 06/20/2012  3:23:58 PM

April 17, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 05/10/2012  9:23:19 AM

April 17, 2012 Fox C-6 Bond Election Notice

March 20, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 04/10/2012  5:25:10 PM

February 21, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:28:46 PM

February 7, 2012 Fox C-6 Special Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:28:05 PM

January 17, 2012 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:27:44 PM

December 13, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:27:01 PM

November 15, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:25:38 PM

October 18, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:24:15 PM

September 20, 2011  Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:15:00 PM

September 20, 2011 Fox C-6 Tax Rate Hearing Notice
Created: 03/30/2012  12:14:35 PM

August 30, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/30/2012  12:23:04 PM

June 28, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 04/11/2012  8:46:14 AM

May 17, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 04/11/2012  8:52:41 AM

April 10, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 05/10/2011  3:16:31 PM

March 15, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 04/19/2011  2:47:33 PM

February 15, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 03/11/2011  2:28:21 PM

January 18, 2011 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 02/11/2011  11:17:46 AM

December 14, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 01/14/2010  9:48:48 AM

November 16, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 12/15/2010  9:20:06 AM
October 19, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 11/17/2010  2:38:11 PM

September 21, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 11/17/2010  10:26:28 AM

August 31, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 10/01/2010  3:55:42 PM

June 29, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 10/01/2010  4:19:31 PM

May 18, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 09/30/2010  10:30:19 AM

April 20, 2010 Fox C-6 Board Meeting Minutes with Attachments
Created: 10/07/2010  12:02:43 PM

Monday, December 24, 2012

Is There a Textbook Shortage in the Middle Schools?

After the December 2012 board meeting, I asked some of the Fox C-6 school board members if they were aware of the fact that our middle schools didn't have enough books for all of the students to take them home at night.  Board vice-president Dan Smith said that this was the first he had heard of this problem and Assistant Superintendent Dan Baker said he wasn't aware of it either.

So, I asked them if they were aware of which has FREE textbooks available for download in PDF, ePub and mobi formats.  They weren't aware of the website.  Board member Ruth Ann Newman asked me if the books could be downloaded onto one of the digital devices or were they only accessible on the website.  I told her that they could be download to a computer, a tablet and most smart phones and that I had several textbooks on my phone such as Earth Science for Middle School, Physics and Calculus.  I told our board members that the community no longer trusts our school board and administration due to their recent actions and decisions.  And, for the amount of money that is being spent on upgrading the football fields, every student in the school district could have been supplied with an eReader or a tablet computer that could hold all of the FREE textbooks from  The parents that I have spoken with are not happy that the district was spending money to upgrade our football fields when there aren't enough books for all of the students.

I followed up my discussion with an email to our board secretary, board president Linda Nash, board vice-president Dan Smith and board members Ruth Ann Newman and John Laughlin asking again that the school board packets be published on the school district website and my concerns about the book shortage in the middle schools.

I received the following email response regarding my concerns on the textbook shortage from the Ridgewood Middle School principal through our board secretary.  Her email was copied to the board members I emailed originally as well as Dr. Lorenzo Rizzi, the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education.

Here is the email that was forwarded to me from Mrs. Pelster on December 20, 2012:
I do not know where this is coming from. I just talked to all his teachers.

Geography - the kids are not given books. They are completely outdated and the teachers barely use them. Students can take a book home whenever they want.

Math - Every student is assigned a book and has a book.

Science - These are the multiple small books. These books are used as a classroom resource. Again, anytime a student wants to take one home, they can sign one out.

Language Arts - The books are used sporadically because once again the textbook is just a small resource.

Again, the students can take one home whenever they want. I will be happy to give <NAME> a textbook that he can have at all times. Teachers do not give out textbooks because we do not have enough; they don't give them out because they are just a resource for the class. This cuts down on students lugging around heavy books every day that may or may not be used. [emphasis added]

Kristen Pelster
Ridgewood Middle School
National School of Character

In a follow up email I wrote back to the board members, Mrs. Pelster and Dr. Rizzi, I told them that I was not asking about the book shortage for my son but for the parents that had approached me on the matter.

Here is my response email to the board members and administrators:
My concerns for not having enough books in the middle school was not just for Ridgewood.  My concerns also were not brought to me by my son.  These concerns were first brought to my attention by some Seckman Middle School parents.  I was unaware of any book shortage until a few weeks before the Bond Issue vote when parents expressed concerns about the district's priorities.  They wanted to know why the district was going to spend $3.5 Million to upgrade our football fields when there aren't enough textbooks for their kid's classes and stated that they would be voting no on the Bond Issue.  So, I started talking to more parents in the district about this issue and I found out that many parents shared the same concern.  The parents that I have spoken to are under the impression that the district doesn't have enough textbooks in the middle schools.  I have not spoken with any Fox Middle School parents on this issue nor anyone at the high schools.

It wasn't until after the start of this school year that I learned that Ridgewood had the same problem after the parents of my son's friend told me that their son had to check out a science book at Ridgewood because there weren't enough books for all the students and missed getting a book because the teacher was not available.  It did not count against his grade but demonstrated that there is a problem.  So, I wasn't asking for a textbook for my son.  But, it seems that this is a valid concern as Mrs. Pelster stated in her response email that 'Teachers do not give out books because we don't have enough.'  If all of the students had a need to take a book home one night to study for a test, there wouldn't be enough books for ALL of the students to do so.  Thus the reason I brought up the issue after the board meeting to see if any of the board members were aware of this problem.

Also following the meeting, I told Dianne Critchlow, Ruth Ann Newman, Dan Baker, Dan Smith, Dr. Rizzi and Mr. Crutchley about the website where students, parents, and teachers can download FREE textbooks in PDF, mobi and epub format.  This is a great resource for really nice textbooks that are FREE.  Mr. Baker wrote down the web address for his records for after Ruth Ann asked if the books could be downloaded to her grandson's device he was getting for Christmas.

My son read Mrs. Pelster's response and told me that they have been using their Language Arts book almost every day for the last several weeks in class.  This is not to say that he would necessarily need to take his book home at night but that they were at least using the books almost every day rather than "sporadically" as noted.  My son also told me that if he wanted to take a science book home, that he couldn't check one out until after 7th hour because there are only enough books for the class and he has class during 6th hour, so, if you weren't there soon enough and all the books were checked out you would not get one.

When I was a student at Ridgewood, I remember taking my books home at night or to study hall and reading the assignments and then being tested over the material.  I will ask my son and other parents more questions as to how they are studying for tests and assignments.  I know that is how my son did it last year in sixth grade as I read some of the text books with him.

There are a lot of internet resources for study material that I am aware of, but everyone doesn't have access to the internet at home.  Students could download textbooks onto a computer, tablet, digital reader, or smart phone.  Then the books would be available anytime they wanted to study if they had those digital resources available to them.

The parents I spoke with had very valid concerns in my opinion and that is why I brought the issue up with our board members.  I appreciate you looking into the issue as it still seems a valid concern worth further investigation.  Possibly providing information to the parents about how textbooks are used at school nowadays would help to explain things and resolve any misunderstandings.  I try to let everyone know about the educational resources that are available for FREE online so they can take advantage of them.  I think it is especially important to let those parents and students know about those resources for those that are struggling.

Hopefully Mrs. Pelster will be able to take advantage of some of the resources like and in her new position as the curriculum director.  She has done a great job at Ridgewood and will be missed by all I am sure.

Thank you,

Richard Simpson

December 18, 2012 Email To Fox School Board Regarding Board Packets and Textbooks

On December 18, 2012, I emailed the following letter to our school board president Linda Nash, board vice president Dan Smith and board members Ruth Ann Newman and John Laughlin as well as our board secretary after speaking at the December 12, 2012 school board meeting in regards to the publishing of the board packets to our district website.  I've made this request to our board several times previously in my Public Comments at board meetings and via emails to our board.  You can find my request documented in the August 2011 school board meeting minutes.  Please note the detail in the board meeting minutes with regard to my Public Comments.  For another example of the detail to which my Public Comments are documented, I recommend that you read the December 2010 school board meeting minutes.

I certainly hope that everyone in our community starts asking the Fox C-6 school board why they will not publish board meeting packets on the district website that contain the documents that are referenced throughout the board meeting minutes.  Without the documents referenced by the board meeting minutes, our board minutes are not complete.  Other school districts publish these documents on their websites.  So why will Fox not publish these documents on the district website?  Why is Fox now charging a rate of $33 per hour for "scanning and search time" to obtain the documents which were sent to me for FREE up until August 2012?

According to Missouri Sunshine Law Section 610.026, the charges for public records are "not to exceed the average hourly rate of pay for clerical staff of the public governmental body".  Missouri Sunshine law also states that, "Documents may be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge when the public governmental body determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the public governmental body and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester".  I am not requesting the documents for commercial interest.  I am requesting these documents in order to better understand the operational costs of our school district and the decisions being made by our school board.

The rate of $33 per hour equates to a annual salary of $68,640.  If that rate seems high for the "average hourly rate" of the clerical staff at Fox C-6, that is because that is the hourly rate of the school board secretary who is also our superintendent's secretary.

Please read my email to our board members.  Then, contact your Fox C-6 board members and ask them the same questions that I have been asking and see if you get a response.  I have not received a response from the school board as to why they will not publish the board packets on the district website like other school districts do that I have researched.  I did receive a response from our superintendent in 2011 after the August board meeting which you will find in my email.  You should also request copies of the board packet documents so you too can have a better understanding of how much it costs to run a school district.  The board packets contain a list of ALL payments that are approved by the school board each month and helps you understand where your taxpayer dollars are being spent.  The board packets also contain salary schedules for employees in the district as well as the list of staff hired and separated from the district.

The board packets already exist in PDF format because the school board members have been able to view them on tablet computers at board meetings for the past year.  However, while sitting at a board meeting, you don't know what the board members are viewing on their tablet computers because you can't obtain a copy of those documents prior to a board meeting like you can at Wentzville for example.  You should be able to review those documents prior to a board meeting.  That would allow you to contact your board members and ask them questions about issues prior to their voting on them.  Your board members are elected officials and are supposed to be making decisions in your interest.  Currently, you don't find out what decisions were made until after the next board meeting when the minutes are approved by the board and posted on the district website.

Mrs. Davis,
I am requesting again an electronic copy of the October 2012 Fox C-6 School Board Meeting Minutes w/attachments packet be sent to me via email per Missouri Sunshine Law free of charge.

I am also requesting an electronic copy of the November 2012 Board Meeting Minutes w/attachments packet be sent to me via email per Missouri Sunshine Law free of charge.

As I stated at the December 2012 School Board meeting, I had not been charged for the board meeting packets prior to my request in September 2012. I also stated that School Board Policy #0421 states that that the school board speaks through its minutes and that those minutes are to be Accurate and Complete. Our board minutes ARE NOT COMPLETE without posting the associated board meeting documents that our basic board meeting minutes reference. The documents in the board meeting minutes attachments need to be made available on our district website in order for our board meeting minutes to be complete. By not making those documents freely available to the public violates board policies and leads to distrust in the community.

I am encouraging you and the school board to post the board meeting minutes to the school district website along with the board meeting minutes that are currently posted on the district website dating back to July 2008. By making this PUBLIC information available to the community, you can begin rebuilding the trust of our community. It will also provide the community a better sense of how much money it takes to run a school district and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Mr. Dan Smith campaigned for State Representative on the premise of transparency of government. Therefore, I am asking that you and our school board help improve the transparency of our school district by publishing these documents to our school district website just as they do in other school districts.

I have made the request of publishing the board packets to our district website several times in the past and was told by our superintendent that the school district does not have a full time person maintaining our district website in order to spend the time posting this type of information but instead chooses to “put our money into the classroom“. I was told this after giving the Wentzville School District as an example of a school district that does publish their board meeting packets to their district website prior to their board meetings. If we do not have a full time person to manager our district website, can you explain to me what the full time position of Web Designer’s responsibilities have been for the past 7 or 8 years?

John Laughlin spoke to me after the December 2012 school board meeting and told me that he was not aware that I was being charged for these documents and said he would inquire about this issue. I also spoke with Dan Smith regarding the concerns of the community and told him that there is quite a bit of distrust in the community now of both the school board and the administration due to the spending of almost $3.5 million dollars for football stadium upgrades and the recent hiring of our board president’s daughter in law to a position in the school district when she did not have the certifications at the time of the hiring that the district was looking for candidates to possess or obtain when other candidates did have those credentials. I informed Dan Smith, Ruth Ann Newman and Dan Baker that our students at Ridgewood Middle School do not have enough books for all of the students to take home at night to study with and only those that get the books checked out first have them available to them. Dan Smith and Dan Baker stated they were unaware of this situation. This is why parents are concerned with the spending of money on football fields when there are not enough books for the students to each have their own book. I then informed Ruth Ann Newman and Dan Baker about which is a website that has FREE textbooks available for download in PDF, epub and mobi format that can be read on computers, tablet computers and smart phones.

I am looking forward to receiving an electronic copy of the October 2012 and November 2012 School Board Meeting Minutes w/attachments documents.

Thank you,

Rich Simpson

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fox C-6 Is Making Headlines!

The Fox C-6 School District has been in the news a lot lately!  

(This post was updated December 26 to adding the Post Dispatch Article posted on STLTODAY.COM.)

However, it's not the kind of news that the school district or the community really wants to be associated with.  It appears that the news of the hiring of Fox C-6 school board president Linda Nash's daughter in law as the Fox C-6 Food Nutrition Services Director position has finally awakened the community to check out what is going on our school district.  The Food Nutrition Services Director position will pay Linda Nash's daughter in law a salary of $65,336 per year.  Her daughter in law has a high school diploma and has been an assistant manager at McDonald's for 17 years.  In my opinion, this incident represents the iceberg that hit the Titanic.  It is only a matter of time, as the residents of our community become more interested in what has been going on behind closed doors in the Fox school district and that information becomes available to the public.

You will discover that other school districts are MUCH MORE TRANSPARENT about their business dealings than Fox has been.  The residents in those districts take action to halt the type of things that have been recently brought to light in our district.  It is important that every resident in the Fox C-6 School District start contacting their board members and administrators and start asking questions.  However, you will first have to find some way of contacting your board members.  Check out my post on How Accessible and Transparent is Your School Board? for more information.

Now Onto The Headlines
The Arnold-Imperial Leader newspaper's Thursday December 6, 2012 edition had a story about hiring Kelly Nash, the daughter in law of Fox C-6 School Board President Linda Nash for the Food Services Director position.  The Leader did not publish this story on their website but have done some follow up stories and published an editorial comment as well as letters to the editor from residents with degrees and certifications in the area of food nutrition.  You will have to locate a copy of the Leader newspapers in order to read them.

The most recent Leader newspaper had an explanation from the Central Office as to how they arrived at the conclusion that the school board president's daughter in law was the most qualified applicant for the job.

The Fox 2 News You Paid For It stories and McGraw Milhaven interview of Mark Paul highlight the issue of hiring staff without certification or the credentials for the job.

In case you haven't been able to keep up with all these stories, I have compiled them for you here in chronological order and it appears that this list will continue to grow:

December 7, 2012
Fox 2 News - You Paid For It: FOX School District's Food Services Director

December 10, 2012
Arnold Patch: Fox School Board President's Relative Hired as Food Service Director

December 11, 2012
Arnold Patch: No Policy in Place Regarding Nepotism, Fox School Official Says

December 12, 2012
Fox 2 News - You Paid For It: Food Services Director Follow Up

December 14, 2012
Bill McClellan: Hiring Scandals Erode Public Trust

December 17, 2012
Arnold Patch: Attorney Explains Missouri Laws on Nepotism Within School Districts

Arnold Patch: Taxpayers Irked Over Hire of School Board President's Relative

December 18, 2012

550 KTRS - The McGraw Show - Mark Paul from Imperial on Recent Hire

Mark Paul states on his Facebook page that he was on the McGraw Milhaven show on December 18 speaking about the Fox C-6 School Districts recent hiring of Kelly Nash, Daughter in Law of Board President Linda Nash.  You will have to fast forward to the 14:00 minute mark to hear his segment with McGraw Milhaven.

December 26, 2012
Hiring Practices in Fox Schools Upset Some Residents, Spark Interest in Union

And, for information about the Food Nutrition Services Director Job Opening, I have the following story that was linked from one of the Arnold Patch stories from above which has a list of qualifications that the school district was looking searching for candidate to fill the opening.

October 22, 2012
Arnold Patch: 10 Job Openings In and Around Arnold